Join 3,513 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Welcome to the world where Sandy Hook didn’t really happen.
January 16, 2013 5:17 AM   Subscribe

On Dec 14th, Gene Rosen found six kids "sitting in a neat semicircle at the end of his driveway. He ran upstairs and grabbed an armful of stuffed animals. He gave those to the children, along with some fruit juice, and sat with them as the two boys described seeing their teacher being shot." Now he's getting phone calls and emails from Sandy Hook Truthers who think that the shooting in Newtown was a government sponsored hoax.

According to Slate "His wife is worried for their safety. He’s logged every email and every call, and consulted with a retired state police officer, who took the complaint seriously but said police probably can’t do anything at the moment; he plans to do the same with the FBI"

Rosen says “I guess I kind of opened myself up to this” because of the interviews he gave and his appearances in the media after the shooting. He believes in free speech, but “I talk to you about this because I feel that there has to be some moral push-back on [the Sandy Hook Truther movement].”

Sandyhookhoax.com lists what they think is proof of a conspiracy. They offer a Sandy Hook Hoax bumper sticker that says, "The official story is riddled with holes"

They claim the witnesses and parents were actors, and that this video shows that Emile Parker is still alive, claiming that the girl is not Emile's sister, but Emile.

They cite a planned FEMA course for Dec 14th as proof of a coverup.

Who are some of the people promoting the idea that the shooting at Sandy Hook was a hoax?

It's not just David Icke.(previously)

Ben Swann is an anchor for the Fox News affiliate in Cincinnati. The Atlantic (previously) has applauded his coverage of civil liberties issues. Erik Wemple at the Washington Post claims that "Swann allows his affection for constitutionalist politics to corrupt his judgment" when it comes to Ron Paul's "racist, homophobic and creepy-cum-conspiratorial newsletters" .

Swann also hosts "Full Disclosure", an online series where Swann discusses national issues. The Jan 3 episode of Full Disclosure covered three of this year's mass shootings - the movie theater in Aurora, CO; the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI; the Newtown, CT school shooting. In each case, Swann questions the official narrative of events. In another episode of Full Disclosure, Swann reviews possible links between the shooters in Newtown and Aurora, addressing the rumor that they are connected via the LIBOR banking scandal, and allegations that Lanza and Holmes' fathers were both due to testify.

Alex Jones (recently; previously) invited Swann onto his radio program. Jones' opinion of Swann: "Basically, he’s like a professional, focused, kind of news-style Alex Jones, which I love".

Mike Harris, 2006 gubernatorial candidate from AZ and contributor to Veterans Today, claimed that the Sandy Hook shooting was a revenge killing by Israelis because of the UN's recognition of Palestine. He states that Israeli death squads are responsible for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, as well as the theater shooting in Aurora, CO. This interview was broadcast by PressTV, the English-language channel of the state-owned IRIB in Iran.

James Tracy, a communications professor at Florida Atlantic University, said that "that trained 'crisis actors' may have been employed by the Obama administration in an effort to shape public opinion in favor of the event's true purpose: gun control."

Debunking the conspiracy: Reddit user preggit offers a critique of hoax theories

Identity of the "second shooter"


"The video even makes the ridiculous claim that since the guy was sitting in the FRONT of the police car, that he must have some "crazy" credentials. Yeah, what is more likely...that this guy was a concerned father or that he was a man with some "crazy" credentials on a black ops mission to shoot up a school but he just didn't have the skills to properly vacate, and so he ended up getting himself captured by lowly local law enforcement, AND broadcast on national tv, potentially exposing his super secret black op? C'mon."

The gun discrepancy

The school nurse does not exist

There was only one ambulance


More misinformation about Sandy hook debunked at Snopes.
posted by dubold (345 comments total) 95 users marked this as a favorite

 
What the...? Hell ain't hot enough for these creeps.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


This appears to be a very well put together FPP, good work. AND you managed to not express the anger and disgust that I (and, I suspect, many of us) feel when we think about the FUCKING CRAZY PEOPLE who would use this event to further their SHIT ASS CRAZY political beliefs.

I shall check out the links when I am convinced reading/watching will not cause me to implode, which may be never....
posted by HuronBob at 5:25 AM on January 16, 2013 [91 favorites]


I think we found those mentally ill people the NRA was talking about.
posted by zombieApoc at 5:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [105 favorites]


> The Atlantic (previously) has applauded his coverage of civil liberties issues.

The Atlantic's endorsement of anybody is kind of fraught with complications these days.
posted by ardgedee at 5:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


America is a very strange place.
posted by Avenger at 5:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [26 favorites]


... and that's why the Rest of the World loves America: it provides a constant Stream of nutty Stories, Blood and Violence.
posted by homodigitalis at 5:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


There has always been and always will be an extremist fringe. What's truly horrifying is that these people are using various media to torture the victims' families and the people of Sandy Hook. I would equate their behaviors to the Phelps approach to the funerals of servicepeople. It is a form of hatemongering and deserves no platform.

I'm not sure I believe such things require legislation, but damn. Where is human decency?
posted by kinnakeet at 5:30 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sad though it is, truthing is more than just a cottage industry now. It's a business worthy of its own SIC code.

The mainstream media and politicians may variously scorn, ridicule, gnash and wail about it, but the roots of the conspiracy theory industry movement beyond the fringe is partly due to the appalling quality of TV news and shock jocks particularly.

Politicians share their part of the blame too. Politics was always a hotbed of lies, but the amount of money poured into attack ads and attack dog organisations has made the truth a matter of opinion. Either because there are so many people claiming ownership of the truth, or because the signal to noise ratio has gotten so high.

tl,dr: opinions are like arseholes; everyone has one.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:31 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is a great FPP and I will read the links but I do generally believe that these kind of people deserve nothing more than for the world to turn its back on them.
posted by young sister beacon at 5:32 AM on January 16, 2013 [19 favorites]


America is a very strange place.

posted by Fizz at 5:32 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't this just standard stuff? When Bush used the terrorist attacks of September 11th as an excuse to invade Iraq, there were plenty of conspiracy theories about the government having been implicated in the whole thing to create an excuse to invade Iraq.

The gun lobby has been waiting for Obama to take their guns and the fact that he didn't take their guns in his first administration has made them, of course, even more suspicious.

As the actual legislation starts hitting the floor in the wake of Sandy Hook you can expect this to intensify as the gun lobby convinces itself that it is all one big gov'mint conspiracy.

And it is all good for Obama, Pat Buchanan sees it coming:

"The coming gun battle, too, is one in which Obama seems to be seeking a clash where, should he lose on the assault weapons ban, he wins with the public and tars Republicans as lapdogs of the National Rifle Association. And the next time a massacre occurs, as inevitably it will, is there any doubt whom the Democrats will hold responsible?"

As I tell my conservative friends, if that kid in Sandy Hook was named Mohammad, their already shaky position on gun control would be absolutely untenable.
posted by three blind mice at 5:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Thanks for this thread. I had been wanting to know more about this new flavor of crazy, but kept feeling nauseated doing any research myself.

Also doesn't even using the phrase "the official narrative" feel like we're loosing ground? Like we've accepted it as a subjective experience, not, ya know, THE TRUTH?
posted by fontophilic at 5:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nothing is ever going to be true again, is it?
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [71 favorites]


Huh. To me, it looks like truthers are now part of the right wing's strategy.

Something happens that calls your policies on an issue into question? Don't talk about the policies. Have the loony fringe of your party call the actual event itself into question. That gets the opposition talking about the loonies, basically defending reality itself, and when they're doing that, they can't attack you about the issues.

Not exactly elegant, but clever.
posted by MrVisible at 5:35 AM on January 16, 2013 [20 favorites]


Honest question: How is it that these people have, not just a soapbox to spout their nonsense from, but national coverage? There was a time when people like this were rightly considered fringe, whackos with wierd theories that don't seem to make any common sense whatsoever. What changed to make these people the dominant voice?
posted by LN at 5:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Grassy Knoll.
posted by infini at 5:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


What changed to make these people the dominant voice?

The open maw of the 24/7 cable news cycle dragon.
posted by blucevalo at 5:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [58 favorites]


I saw the story about this guy being harassed yesterday...and it just make me shake with anger.
I mean to use those kids for that...uck.

All I could see in the kids at Sandy Hook was my own 6 (almost 7) year old son.
posted by ShawnString at 5:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually heard about this yesterday, and got mad enough to actually use the whois directory lookup to get the name and contact details of the guy who did the "sandyhookhoax.com" site (some guy in Idaho), and figure out a way to give him a taste of his own medicine.

It took a very, very long time for me to accept my conscience reminding me that that wasn't the right way to go about fighting this, but my God I was tempted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [38 favorites]


Life gets stupider by the day. I'd say the word "Truther" is now my least favorite.
posted by Philemon at 5:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can an American explain the recurring Truther undercurrent in recent history to me? It could just be the ubiquitous fringe outsiders being harnessed for Republican interests, but it seems like there might be something going on under the surface here that I can't quite put my finger on.
posted by forgetful snow at 5:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


> The mainstream media and politicians may variously scorn, ridicule, gnash and wail...

Rupert Murdoch's various TV and radio venues extend across all or nearly all American media markets and have to be counted as one of the biggest of American mainstream media.

So, basically, it's major media providing unprecedented outreach, legitimizing the whackshit fringe by granting them access to programming.
posted by ardgedee at 5:45 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


As always, after the election, I fantasize that the level of crazy and vitriol will somehow, magically, go down. That people will change out of their mud-covered clothes and get back to work. But it seems that parts of America are locked in a 24/7/365 state of batshitinsane paranoia and/or manic reactions of canyoubelievethesebatshitinsanenutjobs. Kenyan revolutionaries, impending Sharia law, Manchurian Candidate presidents, faked birth certificates, UN Black Helicopters .... where does it stop (and when will R.E.M. come out of retirement and write a version 2.0 of "End of the World As We Know It" that strings all of these things together into a nice 3:30 song?).

Having recently gotten a car with a free year of Sirius radio, I can rapidly scan through both the best/worst of left and right wing radio, and I have to say, with utter dismay, that the Alex Jones-ian talk about armed revolution and paranoid "they're coming to put us in jail and take our guns away" is rapidly creeping from the extreme right to the far right and is starting to show signs of metastatizing to the mainstream right. I'm hoping that this type of revisionist history, which in my opinion, is of the same caliper and moral standing as other types of "revisionism", doesn't follow suit.

But I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

(And yes, I suppose that my use of the phrase "revisionist history" upholds Godwin's law. My bad.)
posted by scblackman at 5:45 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Honest question: How is it that these people have, not just a soapbox to spout their nonsense from, but national coverage? There was a time when people like this were rightly considered fringe, whackos with wierd theories that don't seem to make any common sense whatsoever. What changed to make these people the dominant voice?
They're not even remotely "the dominant voice".

Ignoring that, though, I think a good part of why they're being covered, at least in this particular case, is not because of their beliefs, but rather because they're harassing this guy in numbers. And at least part of the reason they're harassing him in numbers is because the internet makes a lot of things a lot easier than they used to be:posted by Flunkie at 5:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Forgetful snow: I think it's the same conspiracy theorist faction that there's always been, just with the Internet being a much more sophisticated way of communicating and acting on their batshitery. Today they can make free blogs on Wordpress and use facebook or linkedin or Google to look up people's phone numbers and contact info; in the past they had to make do with phone books in libraries and mimeographed flyers stuck to telephone poles.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


And the next time a massacre occurs, as inevitably it will, is there any doubt whom the Democrats will hold responsible?

If you don't want to held be responsible for the deaths of children, step 1 is to not be responsible for the deaths of children.
posted by empath at 5:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [42 favorites]


Sad though it is, truthing is more than just a cottage industry now. It's a business worthy of its own SIC code.

It's not a surprise to me that Icke has adjusted his brand a bit.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:48 AM on January 16, 2013


Honest question: How is it that these people have, not just a soapbox to spout their nonsense from, but national coverage? There was a time when people like this were rightly considered fringe, whackos with wierd theories that don't seem to make any common sense whatsoever. What changed to make these people the dominant voice?

24 hour news cycle + Social Media Trending metrics + Observational Selection Bias + Insensitivity to Base Rates + Negativity Bias = People hyper-reacting to news stories, which in turn leads to the news pushing those stories more and more, leading to people continuing to tune in and discuss. As such, advertisers know where your eyes are tuned to and the network can charge more for delivering a demographic - a fearful, pre-primed, easily influenced demographic.

Get rid of your notion of Walter Cronkite style news reporting anymore. While an individual reporter may have integrity, the station is beholden to their revenue stream - and the money associated with that means that their job is to give you the news that draws a visceral reaction so that you continue to watch the news.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:48 AM on January 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


I honestly believe that a large proportion of the people who make this kind of content are suffering from mental illness.

The web offers everyone tremendous power to create and share content. What we're seeing is the difficult consequences of people with mental illness - often probably untreated and undiagnosed - taking advantage of (and indeed making the most of) that power of the web. Moreover, the deeply disturbing content that these people are making is becoming widely distributed (because of it's repellent and disturbing nature).

This isn't going to change any time soon. Too many people with mental health problems are going to continue being untreated; and clearly their access to the web isn't going to change (and nor should it, necessarily). Nor do I think that significant blame should be attached to the people creating it - no matter how repellent the message.

We are all going to simply have to get better and recognising - and then ignoring and not sharing - this kind of desperately sad and offensive material. (And at the same time, pushing for wider acceptance and treatment of mental illness).
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 5:49 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


LN, probably a lack of any kind of journalistic integrity. A profit driven business plan for all kinds of media that no longer pays for research departments, international bureaus, etc. It's much easier to sit on the internet and look at what crazy shit is being talked about, than to send someone out into the world and find what should be talked about. It drives viewership, page views and thusly ad revenues.

Additionally, theres a huge power of echo chambers on the internet, normalizing the formerly abhorrent. See: proanna, Dylan Klebold obsessed teen girl tumblrs, etc.

If journalism can figure out how to survive without ad revenues in a new media paradigm maybe there is hope for us all.
posted by fontophilic at 5:49 AM on January 16, 2013


To me, 'trutherism' is the upshot of a cynical political party and its sympathizers which employs its massive public relations machinery to muck up the waters on issue after issue.

This same party (and its affiliated organizations) has turned politics into a matter of culture, which tends to reduce all issues into a kind of standoff between tribes rather than a debate about issues and facts. Consider for example the health care law, a Republican model for fixing the leaks in our health care system. The Republicans didn't just oppose it; they demonized it with claims of death panels and socialism, claims that came not from the fringe but directly from the mouths of Republican leaders in the House and Senate.

And no, it's not that "both sides do it." One side is decidedly more vulgar and cynical than the other. It's no wonder it's easy to find lots of people who believe crazy things in such an environment.
posted by Philemon at 5:49 AM on January 16, 2013 [27 favorites]


I've lived in western Connecticut for 18 years, and I have lots of conspiracy theories about Ohio.
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:50 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Every time I come across one of these truther/birther screeds, it always reminds me of this song. (Trigger warning: Ministry/Jello Biafra.) Except now instead of a flyer on a telephone pole in Fairfax, California, it's a Facebook page with tens of thousands of "like"s. Or a cable tv news network.
posted by the painkiller at 5:51 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


What

The

Fuck

People?

Seriously, what the blistering green fuck is these peoples' damage?
posted by Samizdata at 5:51 AM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Publicity is exactly what Truthers want. Continue feeding the trolls.
posted by Ardiril at 5:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Give me a ... fuc... god da

wow.
posted by odinsdream at 5:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is an interesting FPP, and it's a shame the only response to it that MetaFilter can muster is, "Look at these assholes."

Thanks for posting, Dubold.
posted by cribcage at 5:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


In an effort to lighten the mood a teensy bit, a comment:

I honestly believe that a large proportion of the people who make this kind of content are suffering from mental illness.

Part of what helped me get over the "but I wanna post this guy's name" about the hoax web site guy was checking out his other interests a bit. Turns out that he styles himself a "New-Age Guru" and makes his living selling "magic" mirror pendants at craft fairs and boasts on his main web site that he was "the only person who figured out the answer to the TV show Lost", and then goes on to claim that it was some kind of manifestation of an obscure Egyptian goddess.

I believe mental illness isn't too far a reach in this case.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is an interesting FPP, and it's a shame the only response to it that MetaFilter can muster is, "Look at these assholes."

What other response were you hoping to see?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 AM on January 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


It's not the complete nut-jobs that worry me, disturbing though they are. I'm worried because my mother-in-law, who is generally an intelligent and thoughtful person, truly believes that our president is a socialist. If these people keep talking about the Sandy Hook hoax (sic) long enough, somehow (through the force of repetition) they may persuade more people to believe their lies.
posted by tuesdayschild at 6:02 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


but it seems like there might be something going on under the surface here that I can't quite put my finger on.

People are beginning to become aware of the shaky foundation that their worldview is predicated on, and seek an ordered explanation for the things that occur in their lives.

They barely realize that world is more far more vast and complex than they previously believed, but still want to have some semblance of control over it.

Because the alternate idea, that we can only slightly, if at all, exert control over our lives and the events in them, is too frightening to contemplate.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:03 AM on January 16, 2013 [70 favorites]


Seriously, what the blistering green fuck is these peoples' damage?

I have a theory about these conspiracy theorists. I'd tell it to you, but hey - I'm not sure your ready to understand why this is an important piece of Karl Rove's plan to resurrect Zombie Abe Lincoln. This is all about the third-eye man. Obama has walled off Alaska and North Dakota already, putting Kim Il-sung's Daughter, Kim Kyong-hui, in charge of the reconditioning of the people in those areas. She'll both stifle dissent as well as ensure a blue victory in 2016 when Obama runs for his third and final term (and is proclaimed supreme president for life).

That's why Rove needs Zombie Lincoln - its the Republicans' last chance of victory in the election, ensuring democracy works. That's the reason we haven't heard too many batshit insane things out of Alaska and North Dakota lately.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


"How is it that these people have, not just a soapbox to spout their nonsense from, but national coverage?"

Because people continue to write FPPs about them. It's all about the creation of new content.

I honestly believe that a large proportion of the people who make this kind of content...

... just want to watch liberals make fools of themselves believing that the creators are serious.
posted by Ardiril at 6:04 AM on January 16, 2013


cribcage: "This is an interesting FPP, and it's a shame the only response to it that MetaFilter can muster is, "Look at these assholes."

Thanks for posting, Dubold.
"

Well, at least in my case, I am so utterly gobsmacked by these people that snarkiness is the only way I can really respond.

This baffles me to no end.
posted by Samizdata at 6:04 AM on January 16, 2013


One of Sandy Hook truthers is Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, the organization that calls itself "the only no compromise gun lobby in Washington." Does Pratt genuinely believe his own bullshit or does he think that denying the actual existence of gun massacres is just a useful political tactic? I'ma err on the safe side and just say "both."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


What the...? Hell ain't hot enough for these creeps.

I sentence them to live their lives as the people they are. That's they cruellest thing I could imagine.
posted by atrazine at 6:08 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


just want to watch liberals make fools of themselves believing that the creators are serious.

"Silly liberals! You so stupid for believing we're as crazy as we say we are! Joke's on you!"
posted by octobersurprise at 6:09 AM on January 16, 2013 [25 favorites]


Reptilian Brains on Parade...
posted by jim in austin at 6:09 AM on January 16, 2013


There is a steadily growing strain of willful ignorance out there. Yesterday, for example, there was a feed on my Facebook page about how Snopes.com is a "liberal" site full of untruths. Apparently (if the claims are even true), George Soros is an investor in the site and that's enough to negate any information there. There were literally hundreds of comments about how Snopes was part of a "liberal agenda" to deceive the public.

Apparently, the truth is only the truth if it comes from a properly aligned source, anymore. I find the trend absolutely fucking scary, to be honest.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:10 AM on January 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


I believe mental illness isn't too far a reach in this case.

At least well out of the mainstream of rational thought.

But there are always people like this. What is different is that they have a voice in the GOP. But the thing is along with that comes the opportunity to use that voice against the GOP which seems to be the President's plan. As Buchanan explains comparing Obama's winning strategy to the winning strategies of FDR and Nixon:

"Barack Obama seems to be taking a page out of the playbook of these coalition builders. Since re-election, he has been actively seeking out confrontations to drive wedges through the Republican Party."

Not only does the NRA provide the crazy, but they are also considered to be one of the most powerful GOP lobby groups. Taking them down a notch or two will pay lots of dividends and further dismantle and divide the Republican opposition.

So I expect to hear a lot more from these fringe nut cases as the liburl media executes the President's plan for him.
posted by three blind mice at 6:11 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can an American explain the recurring Truther undercurrent in recent history to me?

It's not recent; the US has a long and varied history of (rightwing) conspiracy mongers who sometimes turn violent (Ku Klux Klan, frex). They are alternately encouraged and suppressed by the powers that be. It's no coincidence that they were largely quiet during the Bush administration but went into full throated lunacy the minute Obama was president.

Remember all the Clinton conspiracy theories: the death list, the ZOG fantasies, the FEMA terror, Ruby Ridge, Waco et all? All disappeared from the mainstream news media with the installation of Bush, all reappeared with Obama in new forms.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [60 favorites]


Watching the right so completely shit the bed over this is mesmerizing.
posted by unSane at 6:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shorter Conspiracy Theorist: anything I don't like is secretly a hologram created by Jewishes.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:18 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think it's the same conspiracy theorist faction that there's always been, just with the Internet being a much more sophisticated way of communicating and acting on their batshitery. Today they can make free blogs on Wordpress and use facebook or linkedin or Google to look up people's phone numbers and contact info; in the past they had to make do with phone books in libraries and mimeographed flyers stuck to telephone poles.

I totally agree with this but am disturbed by the further amplification of their views by the news media. Anderson Cooper devoted a significant amount of time the other night to the Florida professor's Sandy Hook theories. Wtf? This is classic feeding the trolls. Getting the nation outraged doesn't do any good but giving crazy people a national platform helps to draw like-minded people to their cause.
posted by young sister beacon at 6:18 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It does good for Anderson Cooper.
posted by Flunkie at 6:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is unsurprising...these guys believe that all notable human events are initiated and controlled by an evil cabal of elites who want to oppress and ultimately kill them. It's merely a matter of uncovering the particular conspiracy attached to a particular event.

Also, this stupidity isn't limited to the far-right, as left-wingers put huge amounts of energy and effort into 9/11 crapola.
posted by aerotive at 6:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can an American explain the recurring Truther undercurrent in recent history to me? It could just be the ubiquitous fringe outsiders being harnessed for Republican interests, but it seems like there might be something going on under the surface here that I can't quite put my finger on.

Well, there are a variety of theories. One history professor I knew suggested that while conspiracy theories have been a part of the political landscape for over a century, with "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" an example of an early propaganda black op, things really got rolling just after the end of WWII when allied governments revealed that another whole layer to the war involved top-secret installations with thousands of people producing miracle technologies like thinking machines and atom bombs. D-Day included the largest organized disinformation campaign to date, and of course, the Norweigan resistance and the SAS coordinated the bombing of a civillian ferry that happened to be loaded with heavy water needed for German nuclear research.

After WWII, there was a mess of secret and not-so-secret weirdness that attempted to reestablish the pre-war imperial status quo. So you had things like the Viet Cong getting American assistance to engage in resistance against the Japanese, followed by rearming Japanese POWs to protect French interests form the Viet Cong. Theres an entire backdrop of actual cold war cloak-and-dagger stuff going on, which likely is a breeding ground for deeper conspiracy theories. The probable reality is that conservative White House wonks approved of and covered up assassination, abduction, and mass murder in other countries.

I think the truther ideas on 9/11 and Sandy Hook are laughable myself. The documented massacres performed by militias on the CIA weapon-supply teat less so.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:25 AM on January 16, 2013 [23 favorites]


MartinWisse, but 9/11 'scepticism' has certainly crossed the Atlantic, and I know three or four people who are evangelical on the topic. They all share certain traits - they're incredibly clever, very urgent and determined people, none of them Bush sympathisers. That makes sense in light of the man of twists and turns' explanation: faced with the gibbering chaos of information pouring from our screens, their personalities forbid them from developing the Zen-like resignation of most people, so their minds go into overdrive to find a pattern that gives humanity agency.

Twice I've been backed into conversion lectures, and if mass death wasn't involved there would be something almost admirable in their forensic determination and reliance on (their interpretation of the) facts. So it seems, at least for the kinds of truthers I meet, their beliefs are not simply irrational but over-rational.
posted by forgetful snow at 6:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Conspiracy theory professor who said Sandy Hook tragedy never happened NOW concedes some 'people undoubtedly died'"
I swore I'd never link to The Daily Mail, but that headline is so perfectly Onion-esque, I just couldn't resist.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:32 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The probable reality is that conservative White House wonks approved of and covered up assassination, abduction, and mass murder in other countries.

That's not "probable", that's documented fact. Look up the School of the Americas for one tiny example. Secret wars, assassinations, terrorism -- you name it, we did it, or at least enabled others to do it on our behalf.

And we may still be doing it.
posted by Malor at 6:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


First of all, great, comprehensive post.

I am so tempted to wish that President Obama would address these idiots in his speech later this morning, but I know it won't happen. I personally think that anyone who starts rumors like this, or who share these rumors on social media should have to have a personal conversation with Noah Pozner's mother.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


With regard to conspiracy thinking, Richard Hofstadter's 1964 "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" traces some of the American history. Jon Ronson's Them offers an at times humorous look at conspiracy believers, though he also demonstrates how completely these believers lives can be subsumed into their narratives.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:35 AM on January 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


I am quite happy that I am able to live my days thinking the Sandy Hook Truthers are a hoax.

My sympathies to anyone who can't say the same.
posted by mazola at 6:36 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing I've come to believe about grand conspiracy theories is that they ascribe a much higher level of competency to the federal government than is probably warranted.
posted by jquinby at 6:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [38 favorites]


I had been trying to figure-out a way to make an FPP on these Sandy Hook truthers that wouldn't break my mind and send me crying into a closet. But, I couldn't.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:40 AM on January 16, 2013


Conspiracy/extreme behavior has always sold papers/TV ads/generated page hits. But at the same time, publishing too much of it makes you look disreputable and Enquirer-like, because eventually most conspiracies fall out of fashion (usually once the new wears off/the potential Antichrist retires or dies). I don't really think that tension in news reporting is new.

Neither is yellow journalism. Wasn't the premise for the entire Spanish-American war largely ginned up by one newspaper chain, after all?

We would like to think that this hasn't always gone on, but actually it has. The Phelps of today are the witch-finders and bloodthirsty lynch mobs of yesterday, only restricted to holding hateful posters and filing nuisance lawsuits instead of actually being believed and allowed to whip up mobs.

Specific flavors of conspiracy lies do get around the world faster now than they used to, but since they are all basically the same (believe nothing but us, only we know/suspect the real truth!) that's not new either.

I hate to think about this kind of stuff because it is vile, but sunlight is always best when dealing with it. You have to document the atrocities, insist on reality, refuse to be sucked in by trollery when you can.

Which is what dubold has done here, for which I'm grateful.
posted by emjaybee at 6:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Having recently read the book Columbine, about that 1999 high school shooting, the conspiracy theories don't surprise.

Because there absolutely was a conspiracy by the local police in Columbine to suppress evidence that they knew of the shooters potential for violence. It took years for all the files to released and that's no including the files that simply disappeared.

So while I'm sure that the Newtown shootings occurred, I am damn curious what the facts are and how long it will take for them to come out. The Columbine investigation was pretty much done after six months, but like I said above, it took years for the police administration to release the information, usually under court order.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


“She has been found, and photographed with President Obama.”

As we all know, after every good conspiracy the president comes by to publicly meet with the agents. The meeting is usually photographed, but the high-fives are top secret. Thanks a lot Obama.
posted by Winnemac at 6:43 AM on January 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


Sigh. The FPP's headline sounded so hopeful.
posted by whuppy at 6:43 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because the alternate idea, that we can only slightly, if at all, exert control over our lives and the events in them, is too frightening to contemplate.

This is spot on. The video claiming that 6-year old Emile is not dead, though completely unhinged, is founded on this exact principle. That a 6-year old could be senselessly gunned down? Surely not. What kind of monstrous world would that be! It must be some elaborate LIBOR-related scandal. Yes, that's it!
posted by odinsdream at 6:43 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know whether to laugh or cry...
probably end up doing both at the same time...
and people will think I'm nuts.
posted by incandissonance at 6:44 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing I've come to believe about grand conspiracy theories is that they ascribe a much higher level of competency to the federal government than is probably warranted.

If I favorited that any harder I would have crashed a hard drive in the database server.

What's the rule? On Julian dates divisible by three, the government is supercompetent, otherwise, incompetent? Are there two cabinet officials for each department, one who's smart enough to make Reed Richards check is work, and the other rejected from "Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C." as being too stupid to be funny?
posted by eriko at 6:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Another way of putting it: in a world where the government has a propaganda arm to manage citizen opinion about the ongoing wars, in a world where the government is monitoring all Internet communication, running data-mining operations to see what everyone is talking about, in a world where the FBI manufactures terror plots to keep themselves employed, in a world where citizens have to submit to searches to travel by air, and sometimes even have to stop at road checkpoints and prove themselves innocent, these ideas are not as crazy as they should be.

They should be completely laughable. We should just know that the government wouldn't do any such thing.

I, at least, have lost that sense of impossibility. I am no longer instinctively certain that these truthers are wrong. After some thinking, I believe they're incorrect, but I can no longer be immediately certain of it. And I think anyone that is certain, reflexively, without thinking, has not really internalized the very real changes in the world around them.

We have lost so, so much, just in the last twenty-five years or so.
posted by Malor at 6:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [23 favorites]


I have had to try very hard not to spend time online arguing with these people, reminding myself that it is a bottomless well and will accomplish nothing. It is difficult, because it feels like this is something which should be actively fought against. I'd be interested to know how others feel.
posted by oneironaut at 6:48 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read about this earlier as it was linked in the sidebar on Kataku on This FPP. Absolutely amazing and totally crazy, and I say this as a conspiracy theorist who loves conspiracy stuff.

Part of the problem, as CBrachyrhynchos commented, is that all manner of subversive and secret stuff has been perpetrated by the US government and CIA since the end of the war which feeds into these things. So it starts off with an actual event and then that becomes the basis for an untruth, which leads to more lies and then to a conspiracy which has nothing to do with the original event.

So when the US government/CIA was funding all the generals and fascists in South America, and thousands of people were disappearing and being tortured and killed, the idea that this is happening in America becomes more believeable, and it can snowball from there.

Edit: Also what Malor said.
posted by marienbad at 6:48 AM on January 16, 2013


Imagining a world where Sandy Hook never happened is tempting.
I would certainly like that.


This is just ghoulish.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:50 AM on January 16, 2013


FWIW, the Sikh temple shooting was in Oak Creek, WI, not Oak Ridge, WI.
posted by Kyol at 6:52 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Their brains are faced with a choice to change or deny the events, so the weakened brain spins the event in a fantasy direction that serves their self-image. In reality, the violence in Aurora and Sandy Hook shows the assault weapon collector to be part of the creep squad that is the real threat to America. So, rather than selling themselves as the saviors guarding the little children, their image is now seen as closer to the killer shooting the innocent children. They are more than desperate to rewrite the events.

It is important that we slow down the stockpiling of assault weapons by unstable people by linking it to liability insurance, which stable people will be able to afford.
posted by Brian B. at 6:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


I just don't understand how any functioning adult could actually believe an event like this could be orchestrated secretly. Even tiny conspiracies tend to unravel, never mind ones that would require the silent cooperation of a few hundred people. It's baffling.
posted by davebush at 6:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


One thing I've come to believe about grand conspiracy theories is that they ascribe a much higher level of competency to the federal government than is probably warranted.

And usually are followed in the next breath with a statement about how people in the government are too stupid to breathe.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


And usually are followed in the next breath with a statement about how people in the government are too stupid to breathe.

Not at all - most of my family worked for either the federal government (DoJ) or the military (USN, USAF). They'd be the first to tell you such and would levy a much harsher assessment besides.
posted by jquinby at 7:01 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


> "Look at these assholes."

Goatse.
Eschew.
posted by hank at 7:01 AM on January 16, 2013


davebush, you're certainly right but by definition we will only be aware of failed conspiracies, which skews our view. Unfortunately it's in the nature of the thing that the conspiracy theorists can rarely be proved wrong: they can only either be right or awaiting verification. I expect that's what makes it so comfortable.
posted by forgetful snow at 7:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


they can only either be right or awaiting verification. I expect that's what makes it so comfortable

That's an excellent point.
posted by davebush at 7:08 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jones' opinion of Swann: "Basically, he’s like a professional, focused, kind of news-style Alex Jones, which I love".

Jones went on, "Ben Swann is the smooth, polished Alex Jones for the masses, where I, the original Alex Jones am the bare truth that needs to be told. Swann is the Alex Jones who makes the ladies swoon and the men jealous, while I am put a face to the primordial terror all people feel in their every day lives. The world needs more than one Alex Jones, and he is Ben Swann."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:09 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Here's a more likely "conspiracy" regarding Newtown - the NRA ginned it up to raise fears of gun control, and thus sell more guns!

(I do not believe this to be true. It is not true. However, it has more credibility than the "theory" that Newtown was some sort of gun-control conspiracy.)
posted by notsnot at 7:10 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd rather imagine a world where Sandy Hook can't happen again. Because it's possible. I believe that. But we won't get there by living in a paranoid fantasy about lizard people. We'll get there by making realistic choices about how society will deal with guns, ammunition, mental health care, and school security.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:11 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I suspect the theory about the internet making it easier for these people to talk to each other is a good one. It's not like there aren't leftwing conspiracy theories--I think of chemtrails as leftwing, for example (though I honestly don't know if that's accurate). But there's a right wing media and has been for, what, 25 years and there isn't much of a left wing media. Of course, then there's the fact that what seemed like the most fertile ground for left wing conspiracy theories of the Bush administration, namely the run up to the Iraq war, was so riddled with obvious falsehoods and deceptions that you didn't need to make conspiracy theories. Remember the uranium from Niger claim in the State of the Union? Usually, if you're arguing the President just lied in the State of the Union, you're a nut. But that was known to be false in quite short order. (Though the Iraq war did spawn one conspiracy theory. There are probably still significant numbers of people questioning whether David Kelly actually committed suicide.)
posted by hoyland at 7:11 AM on January 16, 2013


Apparently (if the claims are even true), George Soros is an investor in the site [Snopes] and that's enough to negate any information there.

In case you were wondering, that's not true.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 7:11 AM on January 16, 2013


If you take a look at the About page on the Sandy Hook Hoax website, you'll get this:

My name is Jay Johnson, and I created this website on 12/21/12. My story is the greatest true story ever told. I concluded based on my story, that I am the New Age Messiah, and have since been "New Age Messiah" on line. I am the only person in the world to solve LOST, and the Goddess who spoke to me appears in the show.

Further browsing turns up what seems to be a craft page for jewelry featuring his new-agey message. It's likely that this is someone who is mentally ill, who is being taken care of by someone who might not know about his internet activities. It's easy to dismiss this person as a nut-bag conspiracy theorist but it's harder to come to terms with the fact that this is what actual mental illness looks like, to not sensationalize it and to politicize it.

As far as Alex Jones and Ben Swann are concerned, I imagine there have been worse social pariahs who have broken far more social mores. That they have an audience and that they present themselves as news does make them accountable for their actions, however. Not too sure about Jay Johnson, though.
posted by dubusadus at 7:13 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can an American explain the recurring Truther undercurrent in recent history to me? It could just be the ubiquitous fringe outsiders being harnessed for Republican interests, but it seems like there might be something going on under the surface here that I can't quite put my finger on.

Studies show that people want to believe in a just world. It makes them feel like they have some measure of control over what happens to them - if they behave in a morally upright manner, surely they will be rewarded in the end! It's a well-known cognitive bias.

I think that this conspiracy theorizing probably stems from some variant of this common mental defect. When confronted with something so horrible and random, people need to make some logical sense out of it, and will resort to all kinds of mental gymnastics to do so. The alternative is to surrender their illusion of control over life: to accept that they live in a world where their own kids can be blown away for no reason whatsoever.

Of course, the fact that this delusional behavior is somewhat understandable makes it no less contemptible, and these people should be reviled by any right-thinking person.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:18 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Related: Idaho separatist group seeks to build planned community around gun-ownership, manufacturing, and ...tourism ...in a castle.
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Before Obama's Plan Is Out, NRA Calls Him An 'Elitist Hypocrite' (NPR, January 16, 2013, before the White House event, which is scheduled for today at 11:55 a.m. ET.)

Debate on Gun Control Is Revived, Amid a Trend Toward Fewer Restrictions (NYT, December 15, 2012)

Record-Low 26% in U.S. Favor Handgun Ban (Gallup Poll, October 26, 2011)

I could have sworn there was an NPR piece recently that mentioned more recent polls, where the popular opinion towards gun control where the majority polled still were in favor of (more?) gun controls, but the percentage of that majority was the lowest in a while.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on January 16, 2013


I am no longer instinctively certain that these truthers are wrong. After some thinking, I believe they're incorrect, but I can no longer be immediately certain of it. And I think anyone that is certain, reflexively, without thinking, has not really internalized the very real changes in the world around them.

Dude, a lot of crimes can be laid at the feet of the US government, but if you think, even for a moment, that it makes sense to believe that agents of the government would massacre a school of kids in Connecticut in order to confiscate everyone's guns, then the changes you've internalized have a lot more to do with your own experiences and a lot less with everyone else's.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


We had a really interesting discussion in Metatalk recently about cranks, and specifically about what motivates people to look at the same facts the rest of us have and come up with their own theories about how those facts fit into the larger world. The discussion started out being about science cranks and people who have their own theories about physics, medicine, etc. But I think the larger discussion is really relevant here.

Some theories advanced (some by me, and I'm not meaning this to toot my own horn, I just think the whole discussion was awesome, and I'd like to hear more about it): Anyway, it was a really great discussion, and I highly recommend that people read it.
posted by decathecting at 7:32 AM on January 16, 2013 [50 favorites]


Can we agree to stop calling them "truthers" and call them "fucking idiots" instead? Because that's what I plan to do.
posted by Foosnark at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


This is an interesting FPP, and it's a shame the only response to it that MetaFilter can muster is, "Look at these assholes."cribcage

~~~~Be the change you want to see in the world.~~~~
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


So I understand that everyone has their preferred understanding of why conspiracy theories exist and are propagated, but is there some more concrete research, preferably in book form, about the topic? What would be on the "conspiracy theory reading list"?

The two works that come to my mind are When Prophecy Fails, and the already-mentioned Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, but these don't seem to directly confront what we would call "conspiracy theories".
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Idaho separatist group seeks to build planned community around gun-ownership, manufacturing, and ...tourism ...in a castle.

Oh, yeah? Well, Glenn Beck is building his own city!
posted by octobersurprise at 7:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dude, a lot of crimes can be laid at the feet of the US government, but if you think, even for a moment, that it makes sense to believe that agents of the government would massacre a school of kids in Connecticut in order to confiscate everyone's guns, then the changes you've internalized have a lot more to do with your own experiences and less with everyone else's.

Yeah, I'm willing accept that American policy wonks helped militias massacre communities in other countries by rationalizing that they are "draining the swamps" of a Communist/Islamic menace.

I'm unwilling to accept that they extended that rationalization to office workers and schoolchildren in their own back yard.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:48 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is an interesting FPP, and it's a shame the only response to it that MetaFilter can muster is, "Look at these assholes.

I'm not sure what else there is to say. Should we all be saying that we personally believe that the tragedy happened?

I read a blog (out of a sort of horrified curiosity) where the author believes all the conspiracy theory stuff about Sandy Hook and President Obama and it's really unsettling -- often the posts are sort of normal (for very right wing Christianity) and then suddenly it's all about perverts (teachers, doctors) or conspiracies.
posted by jeather at 7:50 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is it that these people have, not just a soapbox to spout their nonsense from

Its called the Internet.

Don't worry, once the "wild west" of guns is quelled, the "wild west" of the Internet will be next. Be careful what you "demand" to "prevent" because the tool that allows "discussion" over Sandy Hook is the same tool that helps to let you know about other things like, say, collateral murder video.

(The FPP is missing the claim a memorial page was created 3 days beforehand - explainable as a coding error or even a bad date on a server, the Batman movie having "Sandy Hook" on a map, the Hunger Games author living nearby and a topic that should get exposure VS being buried in settlements - SSRI side effects. Akathisia is but one in a long list of side effects that SSRI makers were able to keep hidden, as they settled thousands of lawsuits out of court, by obtaining court orders to seal documents produced in litigation. For instance, a 1984 Eli Lilly document showed akathisia occurred in at least 1% of patients long before Prozac was approved. )
posted by rough ashlar at 7:53 AM on January 16, 2013


Can an American explain the recurring Truther undercurrent in recent history to me? It could just be the ubiquitous fringe outsiders being harnessed for Republican interests, but it seems like there might be something going on under the surface here that I can't quite put my finger on.

I've gotten to see the Truthers from both the right and the left, kind of straddling both worlds as I do. There are some really, really strong commonalities, and actually, none of them involve mental illness. Some of the people spouting the craziest conspiracies are some of the brightest I know.

Commonalities include:

1. Reduced faith in accurate journalism. This is generally a justified true belief, as it goes and all. Journalism departments are reducing their research staff, and TV news is generally the order of the day. TV news is in a constant spin cycle, and doesn't generally stop to be sure it's right before it talks. There have been a lot of documented instances where the rush to judgment was wrong. This is the case even in the Sandy Hook shooting itself - for example, when the wrong brother was identified as the shooter, or when the mom was identified as dying in the classroom rather than in her home. People go on air without really knowing the facts. In addition, media from many networks engages in spin according to their bias - both from the right and from the left.

This means that people are justified in questioning what the media is telling them. They may not know the right degree to which they are questioning, but they are in fact justified in questioning.

2. Reduced faith in the American government. This is an opinion, so it's hard to say whether it's true or not, but I would certainly think it's justified. Whichever political viewpoint you hail from, it's clear that our government has not always engaged in upright dealing, nor has it been completely clear with the American people.

3. An awareness that something is wrong with the story as posted. This can be because some of the initial facts were misreported, it could be because some of the media stories did not align in the facts they were reporting, or it could be because some detail failed the smell test. For some people, they only question that one detail, or think some of the details are wrong - for others, they think it's the case that blows the whole thing open.

A good example of this is Benghazi. For many of us, the initial Benghazi explanation failed the smell test. "It was just some random protesters who were mad about this movie that somehow managed to overcome the security and find the safe house and magically acquire arms and ammunition." In fact, it later proved that it was a deliberate and targeted attack. Now, the simplest explanation for this is that people go to print without knowing what the hell they're talking about. But for people who have already lost faith, this can be viewed as evidence of a coverup.
posted by corb at 7:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [29 favorites]


Cui bono? NRA - they get to change the conversation from gun control to conspiracy theories. Cable TV, they get to milk the misery of Sandy Hook until the next mass shooting. Guess their focus groups found people switching to Wheel of Fortune during the gun control debates. When all else fails rally the crazies and poison the well. Change the conversation from gun control to conspiracy theories, fan and stoke flames and realize ratings galore. Bravo Metafilter, way to take the bait and thanks for keeping me up to date on the diarrhea that is cable news.
posted by any major dude at 7:56 AM on January 16, 2013


This is classic feeding the trolls

I respectfully disagree - Yes, it's impossible to ascertain the motives of the creators of these theories. They may not believe their own propaganda. However, there will be chain emails and facebook posts on this topic by people who aren't just doing it for the lulz. I think it's important to discuss those beliefs, and the evidence against them, in a public manner so that other people can be educated.

While that might not be convincing for the most extreme members of the group, it's undeniable that there are plenty of Americans who are concerned about "socialism" in the US, like tuesdayschild's mother-in-law, or some of my friends and relatives. It's those borderline cases that need to be convinced.

Claiming that it's mental illness is very, very problematic for me. Apologies to any medical professionals who have weighed in here, but I don't like diagnosis via internet, especially when it's coupled with the idea that if someone's behavior is due to mental issues they should "be reviled by any right-thinking person" - well, I'm really disappointed by that attitude.

I really think Jay Smooth's approach deserves another mention here - it's the behavior that's the problem, not the person. Saying that "this person is inherently wrong" removes any possibility of change, as well as absolving yourself of any responsibility to have a dialogue, to convince, or to persuade.
posted by dubold at 7:57 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Part of the problem is that there have been so many real conspiracies in high levels of government that we've learned about in recent decades: the Tuskeegee experiments, the Pentagon Papers, the Eugenics Programs, Iran-Contra, etc.

Almost every single one of those high-level cover-ups were met with accusations from many in the public and the media that the proponents were unhinged conspiracy theorists. In those and many other cases (like arguably those of us who argued at the time that the administration was deliberately leading us into Iraq under false pretenses, and those of us who argued that the relaxation of the FCC's media consolidation rules would be destructive for the independence and quality of the US media markets and lead to the news more and more being used as a marketing tool), there really was fire under all the smoke. Not super-efficient lizard-people fire, perhaps. But real fire.

Obviously, in this case, you'd have to be crazy to believe these tragic events were part of a government conspiracy. For one thing, the current administration has proven itself time and time again to be incredibly reluctant to address the political hot potato of gun control issues and the shooter's personal history makes it pretty clear they had personal motivations and didn't come from some radical "liberal" background. But part of the reason people are so quick to believe in conspiracies these days (and the one that people never want to address directly, prefer comfortably remote abstract theories about underlying psychological motivations) is that there's been a serious and substantial breakdown in trust at almost all levels in American society.

I was just discussing the online backlash to Windows 8 with a colleague the other day, and he pointed out how these days, it's so hard to tell the difference between people expressing a particular view with some ulterior motive (i.e., because they have a business interest in undermining the success of a product or an axe to grind) and people honestly expressing facts, beliefs, and opinions that it's almost impossible not to feel overwhelmed with uncertainty and mistrust when trying to understand what's actually the case.

It's not just some personality defect or psychological flaw within the conspiracy theorists that accounts for these kinds of reactions; there are also serious trust and integrity issues within our culture that encourage this kind of paranoia and/or political gamesmanship.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


Well, Glenn Beck is building his own city!

An Objectivist theme-park, you say? Ms. Taggart's Wild Ride is going to be a blast!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cui bono? NRA

So these truthers are actually being led by a well funded organization with powerful and unelected representatives that furtively influence the public and government?

Your ideas are intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter and podcast.
posted by FJT at 8:01 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow, spammers are using this now:
______________________________
00:16:02 VoiceOfFreedom@Inter.net Sandy Hook Shooting Didn't Happen [PROOF] Excerpt from Muad'Dib's January 7th, 2013 Critical Mass Radio interview: ...They used a poster ...
------------------------------------------

Virus/malware likely payload intercepted by ISP.
Who would be stupid enough to open something like that?

Oh, right.
posted by hank at 8:03 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, I'm not a conspiracy theorist at all and obviously Sandy Hook happened and this guy is who he says he is and does live nearby. BUT, he told a strange story, in a very off-putting way, that (at the time) hadn't been confirmed by any officials or other witnesses, and was not mentioned anywhere as part of the larger timeline. Every article mentioning him was about him and him alone, using him as the sole source.

Has his story since been verified?
posted by acidic at 8:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


In America, when you don't have facts, you promote conspiracies. And, in a country that has a long taught rote memorization rather than critical thinking, and where we have a pool of journalists who have spent years behaving as though one side's lie deserves equal time to balance out the other side's truth, and where a large percent of the population consists of mediocre autodidacts who never learned to distinguish good information from bad, conspiracy theories can be awfully appealing and awfully potent -- especially when they are pushed by people who wear a mantle of authority, because the conspiracy theory serves their purpose.

The right spent eight years trying to destroy Clinton with tales of political assassinations and financial malfeasance. They have gone after Obama with secret Muslim stories and have tried to create conspiracies around him engineering the CIA Petraeus-Broadwell scandal to cover up Benghazi. The NRA has been pushing the "Obama is coming for your guns" line for four years, sans evidence. And while many of these theories float around in the background, never getting much attention, the people who benefit from them wink and nudge and send out dog whistles to let the believers know that they are supported by reputable people.

If you can't have a democracy consisting of an educated populace -- or if you can't win in such a democracy -- you construct lies and conspiracy theories to support yourself, and it seems to work pretty well.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:06 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


People can be insensitive assholes and not be mentally ill. Why is it that we are always looking to blame mental illness when people do unsavory, repellent things? Sometimes people are just mean, rotten individuals. Stop insulting the truly mentally ill.
posted by Kokopuff at 8:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I really think Jay Smooth's approach deserves another mention here - it's the behavior that's the problem, not the person. Saying that "this person is inherently wrong" removes any possibility of change, as well as absolving yourself of any responsibility to have a dialogue, to convince, or to persuade.

Totally agree. I am a firm believer in having a dialogue, hashing out opinions and facts, and (hopefully) setting the truth free. I've always tried to live that way.

But - and maybe I'm letting my personal anecdata get in the way - that kind of dialogue is getting harder and harder to have. People seem MUCH more interested, and likely to question and attack, my political "motivation" than they are to stick with the matter at hand. It gives me a very "brownshirt" vibe, sometimes.

I don't think I'm making this up. I'm 52 years old, so I've had a lot of conversations. Things have changed.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:08 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can an American explain the recurring Truther undercurrent in recent history to me?

I can try.

Part of what came from the Nixon investigation was the Church Commission. That Commission's work product includes such things as MK-ULTRA, COINTELPRO and the Freedom of Information Act.

FOIA's have gotten things like what scheme's Nixon was a scheming along with things like the Northwoods document and these above items show that some people in Government are real anti-social assholes and then OTHERS work very hard to protect those people and institutions associated with the assholes.

On the other side of large government is large Corporation schemes and lies that get exposed like LIBOR, energy price fixing, BP submitting photoshopped 'pictures from the spill clean up efforts' etc.

Thus claims of 'you are being lied to by the powerful' is able to be backed up with documentation.

If this "truther" stuff is offensive then work to have sunshine and disclosure in powerful and large organisations so that the "truthers" will have no deceptions to point to and say "see - they lie!". Past asshole-driven events and their coverups gives "truthers" their fuel. As Justice Louis D. Brandeis said: "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants"
posted by rough ashlar at 8:08 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sometimes I really despair for my country.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:09 AM on January 16, 2013


The conspiracy here is that this outrageous conspiracy is being used to discredit the real conspiracies.
posted by fairmettle at 8:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


this is horrifying. I'm gobsmacked by this. I just don't even know what else to say or think...
posted by supermedusa at 8:16 AM on January 16, 2013


Malor, what we've "lost" is the delusion that the government (any government) wasn't doing horrible shit all the time. I think that loss is a salutary one. The people of the US believed that the Maine was blown up by the Spaniards. The people of the US believed that the Lusitania was simply a passenger ship. The people of the US believed that the Public Health Service was studying the effects of treatment on black Alabama men with syphilis, not using them as lab animals withou their consent. I could go on and on.

That said, every second devoted to farfetched conspiracy nonsense is a derailing of discussions that need to happen.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


OK, I'm not a conspiracy theorist at all and obviously Sandy Hook happened and this guy is who he says he is and does live nearby. BUT, he told a strange story, in a very off-putting way, that (at the time) hadn't been confirmed by any officials or other witnesses, and was not mentioned anywhere as part of the larger timeline. Every article mentioning him was about him and him alone, using him as the sole source.

Probably because he is the only source, aside from the kids, who aren't allowed to be interviewed by their family. Who else could verify it, exactly, except the kids?

If someone had come and talked to me right after something like this happened, how coherent would I be? Not very. Why do we expect a random citizen in the middle of a crisis to present us with a calm, reasoned, completely accurate assessment of what is going on? Would any of us be up to that standard? There were many (legit) confusions immediately after that I heard from the media, and in the town itself, who knows what was flying around in terms of rumors?

I mean, that's just off of the top of my head. Meanwhile, the alternate theory, that this older man living in this small town for years was also some kind of plant to cover up a mass govt-sponsored child-murder to trigger a gun-seizure program that will never happen, is the alternate theory.

Meanwhile, the NRA is suing to keep police departments from destroying guns voluntarily surrendered and paid for as part of a buyback program. Because now, apparently they are sacred objects that can never be destroyed or we lose our freedoms. Or something.
posted by emjaybee at 8:20 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


If I woke up some day and learned that Sandy Hook never happened and those 28 people (yes, even the shooter and the shooter's mother) were alive and 20 children were able to go home and hug their parents and siblings, and a school psychologist could be retiring in a few years, and a one-to-one aide didn't die holding one of her students but was alive and hugging him, and that a principal was going to dress up for the winter gala the way she dressed up as a reading fairy for the book fair, and that a first grade teacher did make gingerbread houses with her students that day, that an ABA intern was proposed to on December 24th, and that a permanent substitute teacher went to dinner with her longtime boyfriend, and that the shooter was receiving appropriate care with the support of his mother.........if I woke up to that one morning, I would be thrilled.

If I woke up to the fact that Sandy Hook never happened, I would be so thankful and so relieved and so full of hope and love.

I would love to have that morning.

But this? This is cruel. The families of Newtown deserve better than this.
posted by zizzle at 8:24 AM on January 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


I get the sense that in this case, the hoax theory stems from some slightly unhinged people observing sloppy journalism.
posted by davebush at 8:24 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because now, apparently they are sacred objects that can never be destroyed or we lose our freedoms. Or something.

Our Moloch by Garry Wills
posted by jquinby at 8:28 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Part of the problem is that there have been so many real conspiracies in high levels of government that we've learned about in recent decades: the Tuskeegee experiments, the Pentagon Papers, the Eugenics Programs, Iran-Contra, etc.

Almost every single one of those high-level cover-ups were met with accusations from many in the public and the media that the proponents were unhinged conspiracy theorists.


This, exactly, except that so many of these "conspiracies" weren't confined to the past. See: "The government is sending spies to peace activist meetings!" "Oh ha ha, you're so craa -- oh, shit."

For gun owners, in particular, they are sitting in the position of just having one of their conspiracy theories spectacularly validated. For years, the idea that "Obama was coming after the guns" was, as Bunnymod said, viewed as a crazy conspiracy theory. Now it is actually true, for anyone who owns high capacity magazines or weapons that would be classified under the new laws as "assault weapons." There are, in fact, confiscation programs being proposed, and many of the people who work on Obama's team have supported legislation that has required people to sell their firearms or ammunition away. (See New York's new ban that gives people a year to sell 10-round magazines, when for many firearms, that is the size of the magazine that fits inside and came with the gun.)

So if you are a gun owner, you have just listened to a lot of people telling you that there was no fire under that smoke, and now there visibly is. So the next time someone comes up with a smoky proposition, it is, for some, easy to believe that this proposition also has smoke.

This is one reason why I wish we wouldn't dismiss things that have real possibilities as crazy conspiracy theories - because it means there's no way to differentiate between genuinely crazy conspiracy theories, and things that actually have a shot in hell of being true.

Meanwhile, the NRA is suing to keep police departments from destroying guns voluntarily surrendered and paid for as part of a buyback program. Because now, apparently they are sacred objects that can never be destroyed or we lose our freedoms. Or something.

This is not because they are sacred objects that can never be destroyed. It's because often, the guns surrendered during buyback programs are stolen guns, which were legitimately purchased by an owner, and if discovered by the police, should be returned to that owner, not destroyed willy-nilly.
posted by corb at 8:28 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I get the sense that in this case, the hoax theory stems from some slightly unhinged people observing sloppy journalism.

I agree, davebush, but think 'sloppy journalism' is a bit unfair. I have studied school shooting coverage pretty closely for the last ten years (sad to say) and the one thing that is really clear is that initial reports get TONS of things "wrong" and people say they 'saw things' and 'heard x number of shots' when it later turns out that there was nothing there.

It is like being in close proximity to such a shocking event brings down a haze of unreality upon everyone in the area and makes them see and hear and say things that aren't strictly speaking accurate but do have some utility for them as they try to process what has just happened down the street.

This is all fairly basic human response to trauma, which is why these crackpots MUST be cynical as well as ignorant.
posted by jmccw at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2013


It's not just the government that's doing horrible shit all the time. It's people at all levels of society. Hell, we've got football programs and churches covering up child sexual abuse. Corporate execs putting safety standards on the backburner to tweak up the profit margins for a quick turnaround to ensure their quarterly bonuses and on and on. There's hardly any sector of American cultural life--from professional sports (witness the recent confessions of Lance Armstrong and the bounty scandal in professional football) to arts and letters (consider all the plagiarism scandals in recent years)--where it hasn't come to seem glaringly obvious we can't really trust each other very much.

Whether that's always been true and we just never knew it before having access to all this "information" or not doesn't even matter. Societies depend on a baseline level of mutual trust and respect to exist and continue functioning. I think our society at all levels currently has serious mutual respect and trust problems. And that's what feeds the "conspiracy theory" industry.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


Who else could verify it, exactly, except the kids?

I saw a link to the Salon story on Facebook yesterday, with a bunch of comments, and one person who commented said that the gentleman in question had helped her son and she would be grateful to him forever. I'd love to see that woman, or any of the other parents, surface in a more formal forum and defend him from these idiots.

I've been so upset about this truther business--I live in CT, and I don't know any of the victims personally but I do know people who do. The ABA intern who was killed was a student at the university where I work. I want these fools to come to CT and say this stuff to the faces of the families of those who lost their loved ones. Well, I don't, for those people's sake, but I just can't see how anybody would have the gall to pull something like this.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


fjt wrote:

So these truthers are actually being led by a well funded organization with powerful and unelected representatives that furtively influence the public and government?

ha, I could have predicted that. That's always step 2 isn't it? The NRA's entire raison d'être is conspiracy. They don't need to be part of the conspiracy, just realize it benefits them and use their vast resources to make sure the crazies get their platform and change the dialogue away from the current one that's threatening their organization. If you are member of the NRA, wouldn't you, at this point, welcome ANYTHING that gets the public off the topic of gun control? Wouldn't their leadership be shirking their duties if they weren't "conspiring" constantly to get the national dialogue off the topic? My point is that these nuts didn't just pop up, they've been going on about this on the internet since day 2 of this tragedy, why is it now being taken seriously? Do you ever ask yourself these questions or do you believe everything you see on tv is pure? I suspect the latter.
posted by any major dude at 8:35 AM on January 16, 2013


This is not because they are sacred objects that can never be destroyed. It's because often, the guns surrendered during buyback programs are stolen guns, which were legitimately purchased by an owner, and if discovered by the police, should be returned to that owner, not destroyed willy-nilly.

Oh, you mean like this woman's guns?

Anna Jolivet had four old rifles she didn't want: "They belonged to my husband, and he passed away four years ago, and I haven't had any success in having someone take them off of me since then. So I thought this is a good time to turn them in."

Also, at the AZ event, rabid gun-lovers tried to intercept sellers with cash, to no avail:

At the gun buyback, gun-rights advocates held signs reading "Cash For Guns" and "Pay Double for Your Guns." As cars pulled into the parking lot, they asked drivers if they wanted to sell their guns privately rather than turn them in. There were few takers.

Doug Deahn couldn't understand it: "Can't figure they'd rather line up and give them away. Can't figure that out."


So in this case...no. It is not stolen guns, or at least if it is, it's people stealing guns and then accepting less-good payments for them for mysterious Reasons.
posted by emjaybee at 8:35 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


@corb

I see what you did there. Let's put it this way, Obama was very much unlikely to propose gun control legislation up until Sandy Hook. So citing the proposals being floated by the WHY as proof that the gun lovers were right all along to fear a crackdown by Obama is rubbish. Even after Aurora, Obama did not propose any gun control legislation. It is pretty clear to any rational person that Sandy Hook changed things given the young ages of the victims. Please let's keep things honest.
posted by RedShrek at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


So I understand that everyone has their preferred understanding of why conspiracy theories exist and are propagated, but is there some more concrete research, preferably in book form, about the topic? What would be on the "conspiracy theory reading list"?

I haven't read this yet myself (although I would like to) but a friend just did, and he recommended it: Conspiracy Rising: Conspiracy Thinking and American Public Life by Martha F. Lee. He says it's got a good bibliography too.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2013


Clinton conspiracy theories: the death list, the ZOG fantasies, the FEMA terror, Ruby Ridge, Waco et all? All disappeared from the mainstream news media with the installation of Bush, all reappeared with Obama in new forms.

I'd say it was not in "the mainstream news media" to begin with.

The italicised claim above sounds like a theory about some kind of conspiracy. And I believe here on The Blue the tradition is to say 'hurf durf' on theories about a conspiracy.

The Internet should have in its archives of newsgroup postings individuals who have had any of those topics as a long running theme to their postings and kept them up over the arc of changes in administrations. Hardly mainstream but such actions do disprove the coverage of some 'conspiracy theories' are just a form of one party political brinkmanship which seems to be the 'theory of a conspiracy' you are implying. (unlike The Blue where many of the bad things that generated FPP posts/uprated comments during the Bush years just don't get posted when done under the Obama administration. I'm rather sure an alleged claim by an alleged retired four-star admiral claiming that Barack Obama intentionally conspired with America's enemies to stage a bogus attack and the kidnapping of an American ambassador so he could "negotiate" the release of a "hostage" and bolster his mediocre approval ratings would have gotten a FPP if it was Bush back during the Bush timeframe. )
posted by rough ashlar at 8:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


For gun owners, in particular, they are sitting in the position of just having one of their conspiracy theories spectacularly validated. For years, the idea that "Obama was coming after the guns" was, as Bunnymod said, viewed as a crazy conspiracy theory.

Proposing relatively modest improvements in gun related regulations only seems like it's the same thing as "coming for our guns" because the NRA have helpfully poisoned the well with their insane exaggerations and hyperbole--their game, like so many others in the corporate PR world, is to tap straight into people's spleens and short circuit their reasoning faculties as much as possible. The NRA and other powerful corporate lobbying interests like them have been particularly effective at tickling people's emotional centers and in the process muddling their critical thinking skills up so much they overgeneralize everything and reason only in stark, logical extremes rather than in the more nuanced, accurate ways that come closer to apprehending reality.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


The NRA has launched a new ad campaign calling President Obama a ‘hypocrite’ for allowing armed Secret Service agents to protect his school aged daughters.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:41 AM on January 16, 2013


RedShrek: "Even after Aurora, Obama did not propose any gun control legislation."

And Tucson. Six dead and a sitting congresswoman shot in the face, with Obama's first-term record on guns being "you can now carry a concealed weapon in National Parks."

But this was all part of his plan!
posted by tonycpsu at 8:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


So in this case...no. It is not stolen guns, or at least if it is, it's people stealing guns and then accepting less-good payments for them for mysterious Reasons.

Well, while I think that's an interesting thing that happened in AZ, gun buyback programs happen all over the country, and there certainly aren't people trying to intercept with cash at most of them. Even if there were, however, it still wouldn't get the guns back into the hands of the rightful owners.

Guns are, in many areas of the country, as frequently traded as cash. It's quite possible that some of the people presenting the guns may not even realize they were originally stolen. But it's very easy to see if a gun was reported stolen, because guns are identifiable by serial number unless they're very old. So it really would be a trivial effort to check against stolen firearm reports. The only reason for the police not to do so is their own desire to have the guns completely off the streets.
posted by corb at 8:44 AM on January 16, 2013


Probably because he is the only source, aside from the kids, who aren't allowed to be interviewed by their family. Who else could verify it, exactly, except the kids?

The police, who themselves must have interviewed the kids and the schoolbus driver. I stopped paying close attention to the news coverage about a week after so I don't know if they've continued to give updates as more details are known. Maybe not.

The alternate theory for me, by the way, is that some guy, caught up in a lot of media attention, exaggerated a little bit. That's all.
posted by acidic at 8:45 AM on January 16, 2013


I'd say it was not in "the mainstream news media" to begin with.

Are you kidding? I lived through that period. During Clinton's second term, there was virtually nothing on the news but coverage of one administration scandal after the next, from the spurious claims about Vince Foster to Whitewater to Lewinsky.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


farfetched conspiracy nonsense

And where is the line between "farfetched" and 'a theory about a conspiracy'?

Because JFK was killed by conspiring mobsters, not lone gunman, nephew Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says
Kennedy told Charlie Rose his father thought the Warren Commission, which concluded JFK killer Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, was a 'shoddy piece of craftsmanship.'
I'm rather sure the shooting of a President and the theories about that shooting are one of the 'gold standards' for "conspiracy theory".
posted by rough ashlar at 8:48 AM on January 16, 2013


Fascinating thing I learned this morning from Mother Jones, who published a list of the NRA's board members: a long-term board member (one of the few female members, and the head of the nominating committee) lives in Newtown. I'd really like to hear some commentary from her on the conspiracy theory, and on the NRA's treatment of this incident. Isn't it interesting that there doesn't seem to be anything out there?
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:50 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you paid attention to the news about this story more than 2 days after it happened you are a fucking ghoul and are the main reason why these conspiracy theories are getting national attention now one month later. So fucking spare me your self righteous indignation that "the families deserve better". The cable news stations would have moved on from this story if your bloodlusted eyeballs didn't keep the advertising dollars at a premium.
posted by any major dude at 8:50 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is not because they are sacred objects that can never be destroyed. It's because often, the guns surrendered during buyback programs are stolen guns, which were legitimately purchased by an owner, and if discovered by the police, should be returned to that owner, not destroyed willy-nilly.

If you can't manage to keep your guns safe and in your hands, you shouldn't be able to own them. There is no excuse for such negligence.
posted by stavrogin at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


My husband actually believes that Kennedy was killed not by mobsters, but as part of a Mafia order.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2013


The rantings of fringe conspiracy nuts doesn't bother me so much. Yes, these folks are about as bad as the Westboro gang, but it's a small price to pay for free speech and all.

What I found more depressing was all the stories about gun shops selling out of their wares in anticipation of new gun laws. That means that there's a LOT of people, not just internet cranks, who were cynical and selfish enough to say, "Twenty dead six-year-olds? Holy crap, I gotta buy me some guns while the gettin's good!" FUCK those people.
posted by fungible at 8:53 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


any major dude: "If you paid attention to the news about this story more than 2 days after it happened you are a fucking ghoul "

Could you please share your mathematical formula for how long we're allowed to grieve for our fellow human beings and American citizens?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


the man of twists and turns:

Because the alternate idea, that we can only slightly, if at all, exert control over our lives and the events in them, is too frightening to contemplate.
"

And personifying that lack of control as bad guys intentionally fucking with them reassures them that they are the good guys.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:55 AM on January 16, 2013


...not destroyed willy-nilly.

I prefer my guns destroyed intentionally and with malice.
posted by edgeways at 8:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are you kidding? I lived through that period. During Clinton's second term, there was virtually nothing on the news but coverage of one administration scandal after the next,

Methinks your judgement of the volume is politically clouded and using over the top language.

Too bad my google-fu is too poor to find what has to be someone's PHD paper comparing the minutes of coverage given to the mentioned scandals on various media.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:56 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't really see what gun control has to do with the subject of "truthers." It might be peripherally related at best.

However, if you really need to wrap gun control into this discussion, it would be great to set some ground rules, since this topic is something that I feel Metafilter Doesn't Do Well. For example, I think it's important to recognize that there is a huge ideological difference between people who want to carry small sidearms for personal defense, and the nutjobs who want to have fully automatic assault weapons. I think that this is a distinction that is often overlooked by gun-control advocates (who alienate a lot of potential supporters by conflating the rational "I have a right to protect myself" folks with the "I need a lot of firepower" extremists).

Even President Reagan (who loosened gun-control restrictions in 1986) was adamantly opposed to assault weapons, and actively helped Bill Clinton gather support in passing the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Recognizing that people's position on gun control is a spectrum rather than an all-or-nothing proposition would also help ensure civil debate.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:57 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


No one seems to have mentioned the harassing phone calls much. When people call this guy at home, they are crossing the line from having wacky theories to intimidating a private citizen. The obvious thing to do (maybe this is happening) is:

1) Get the guy to allow a wiretap/call tracing.
2) Trace all these calls.
3) Open a harassment or similar prosecution against every person who called this guy.
4) Let the media make the prosecutions high profile.

I just can't imagine threatening someone at home, no matter how what kind of crazy grudge I have.

As far as the media, if they didn't suck so bad they'd use this as an opportunity to examine some of the things in this thread: why people believe conspiracy theories, etc.

For the organizations and "journalists" who are promoting this particular conspiracy theory, like the right wing shock jocks, I've use the "I" word. Immoral. Deliberately pushing false information to the public = immoral. I mean, I'm an atheist, but there isn't any moral code I know of where using your life to mislead people *on purpose* is ok.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Can we please not go into another tedious tug-of-war over the Second Amendment and NRA?

Edit: Oops, what wolfdreams01 said.

rough ashlar, one of the 9/11 proselytes mentioned earlier paused, in the middle of a sermon about how it was all organised by the Bush administration, to admonish me for referring to him as a conspiracy theorist. And yet literally he had a theory about a conspiracy. The term is way too diluted these days, the same way that the word 'fascist' is flung about to dismiss people.
posted by forgetful snow at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really cannot think of legitimate reason for people to own automatic weapons. It's like the difference between a firecracker and a pipe bomb, one might be okay in some places/circumstances, the other is really just for causing a lot damage/killing lots of people at once.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is so batshitinsane it is going to give Obama birthers, 9/11 truthers and Kennedy assassination conspiracy buffs a bad name.
posted by beagle at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2013


Can an American explain the recurring Truther undercurrent in recent history to me?

People who feel powerless to understand their world and powerless to affect their situation in it turn to overarching theories when the answers are complex or opaque.

This is part of the disappearance of the working class, the stagnation of the middle class, and and the evaporation of a large part of automatic white privilege. There are a lot of people out there who are confused and angry, who feel that the world has left them behind, that the old verities are no longer true, the old institutions that they cling to are undermined, and those people are going to find answers somewhere, even if they have to dig around in the crazy box for them. They're also going to be exploited politically. None of this is really new; what's new is being able to see it happen in real time, thanks to the pervasiveness of social media.
posted by Fnarf at 9:03 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even if there were, however, it still wouldn't get the guns back into the hands of the rightful owners.

When a gun is turned in to be destroyed by someone who claims to be its owner, why must law enforcement officials assume differently and be forced to devote time and money to looking for the gun's "true" owner? What's next? Putting guns on milk cartons and asking have you seen this gun?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I really cannot think of legitimate reason for people to own automatic weapons.

For the same reason the Government has so many of them I'd wager.

Few seem concerned with the Governments ownership and use of their automatic weapons in these discussions however.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:05 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


well true no one terrified of the government ever seems to want to cut the defense budget.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


What I found more depressing was all the stories about gun shops selling out of their wares in anticipation of new gun laws. That means that there's a LOT of people, not just internet cranks, who were cynical and selfish enough to say, "Twenty dead six-year-olds? Holy crap, I gotta buy me some guns while the gettin's good!" FUCK those people.

I don't think that's a fair characterization at all - particularly the cynical and selfish bit. I think those people were extremely realistic in their assessment of which gun laws had a chance of passing, and their assessment of the high probability of grandfathering clauses. Nor do I think they deserve to be called "Selfish" just because they wanted to make sure they were adequately prepared.

I know a lot of people who bought firearms in the wake of Newtown, and many more who wanted to, but couldn't because the gun stores were sold out. Those people are good people, who realized that the parts and equipment they would need might not be able to be purchased for a long time. Many of them grieved for the dead of Newtown, but simply do not see why the actions of one lone madman should require law-abiding citizens to surrender their Second Amendment rights.

Also, this kind of shortage buying is hardly unique to guns - see the Twinkie buying fever after Hostess got shut down.

When a gun is turned in to be destroyed by someone who claims to be its owner, why must law enforcement officials assume differently and be forced to devote time and money to looking for the gun's "true" owner?

I don't know, maybe because recovering stolen goods is one of the jobs of law enforcement? Whenever someone is pulled over at a traffic stop, they run the plates of the car to check and see if it's stolen, or the person's wanted for anything. Why is that viewed as normal yet the notion of running serial numbers to see if guns are stolen seems like too much hard work for our poor dainty law enforcement?
posted by corb at 9:09 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


and the evaporation of a large part of automatic white privilege.

Someone should make a Metafilter topic bingo card. Because at some point "racism" is brought up in any hot topic.

I'd be interested in hearing how the "Planned Parenthood is a plot to bring on the eugenics of the Blacks" 'theory about a conspiracy' fits into the meme of 'conspiracy theories are all about white privilege'

http://www.metafilter.com/120084/Americas-capital-is-briefly-moved-to-Lancaster-Pennsylvania is the time that particular 'theory about a conspiracy' was brought up.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:12 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Could you please share your mathematical formula for how long we're allowed to grieve for our fellow human beings and American citizens?

If you were personally affected, as long as you need. If you weren't maybe you can share with me why you needed to aid in the grief of those personally affected by subsidizing the media's exploitation of this tragedy? Couldn't you grieve with the television off? I live here in CT, I know people personally affected by this, their lives will never be the same, now your helping make it worse. I guarantee you that someone has been murdered within 50 miles of where you live since this tragedy happened. Where's your fucking month-long mourning for them?
posted by any major dude at 9:13 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whenever someone is pulled over at a traffic stop, they run the plates of the car to check and see if it's stolen

Yeah, but they don't when you take your title and donate your car to Habitat for Humanity.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:15 AM on January 16, 2013


no one terrified of the government ever seems to want to cut the defense budget.

*coff* Ron Paul *coff*

I'm sure others can be found if one looks.

(one could debate how terrified someone is if they are an active part of the alleged terror-producting system)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Corb, do you have links as to a) stolen guns ending up in buyback programs b) cops not checking the numbers (maybe they do, I have no idea)? Are we talking thousands of guns stolen from people and sold into buybacks (where they get what, 50 bucks) instead of to pawn shops or what have you, or like, a dozen?

Or any?

Do you have anything besides what some dude on the radio or the NRA claimed to back this up?

Do you have any stats whatsoever regarding this crisis of law enforcement that means we should shut down buyback programs (which do have a legitimate purpose) because gun owners everywhere are suffering?

I mean if you do, great. Let's talk about 'em.

Because I'm going to need more information before I start shedding tears for all those lost, beloved, destroyed guns.
posted by emjaybee at 9:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


initial reports get TONS of things "wrong" and people say they 'saw things' and 'heard x number of shots' when it later turns out that there was nothing there

Yes, and that's why fact-checking and verification from multiple sources is needed. The rush to report isn't new, but the internet has pretty much forced journalists to operate a warp speed, which means there's a lot more mistakes being made.
posted by davebush at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think stolen guns (that is guns that turn out to have been reported stolen) should probably be kept as evidence of a crime, and perhaps even examined for possible links to other crimes. All of those other guns that get turned in should probably be destroyed, as both the people turning them in, and the people collecting them intend.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Could you please share your mathematical formula for how long we're allowed to grieve for our fellow human beings and American citizens? ... Where's your fucking month-long mourning for them?

And why is the magical "American citizens" needed for the grief to happen? Plenty of others are dying of 'kinetic ballistics' brought about by 'machines of death' elsewhere on the planet to, I believe the term is "our fellow human beings".
posted by rough ashlar at 9:21 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


And why is the magical "American citizens" needed for the grief to happen?

Because this particular event took place in the US? And this particular discussion is about that event?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The inclination towards conspiracy theorizing is a universal trait, at least in American culture. This thread is way too partisan- does no one remember the Bush administration? 9/11 Truthism was HUGE during that era. There were ten thousand rumors and legends about every aspect of the Iraq War. People for a New American Century. Hurricane Katrina. The anthrax mail attacks. There were all sorts of conspiracy theories on things as mundane as Bush's National Guard service and the fact that he had a bulge on his shoulder during a debate with Kerry. Granted, that was in part due to the actual behavior and nature of the Bush administration, but I don't think I'm equivocating here when I'm saying that anti-establishment conspiracy theories will always be there regardless if it's from the Left or the Right.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:30 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


MartinWisse, but 9/11 'scepticism' has certainly crossed the Atlantic, and I know three or four people who are evangelical on the topic. They all share certain traits - they're incredibly clever, very urgent and determined people, none of them Bush sympathisers.

Technically what you'd call these people are patsies. Bright, but not as bright as they think they are, smart enough to see through the contradictions, wrong assumptions and just plain bad reporting the news media put out, but dumb enough to fall for the first plausible looking true explanation, as long as that reinforces their belief in their own cleverness -- are they engineers by any chance?

As such, 9/11 conspiracy theories were attractive to both left and right wingers, but gained little traction in the news media, as it didn't profit the powers that be. Conspiracy fears and paranoia are only stoked when there's a (perceived) threat to the status quo. On the rightwing/Republican side, this is now any Democratic president, no matter how rightwing or centrist they are, as these people no longer believe any Democratic president is legitimate.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


'conspiracy theories are all about white privilege'

That's not even remotely what I said, and you know it.

The EVAPORATION of white privilege, as white people gradually become the largest minority instead of the majority, and thus lose some of their comfort zone, is PART of the reason why a segment of the white middle-to-lower classes feel unsettled, which is part of the reason why they sometimes turn to conspiracy theories. It's also part of why they voted for George Wallace, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan and their intellectual descendants.

This isn't a particularly controversial suggestion; it was in 1971, maybe. The evisceration of unions, the decline in working-class wages (in real dollars) over the past forty years, the disappearance of whole sectors of the economy, the huge increase in housing costs, shift in the tax structure to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the lower orders, the shakeup in previously-unassailable sexual mores, the loss of confidence in both church and state, and, yes, the white male working class having to share his diminishing pie with both women and people of color -- these things have had a real effect on people over the past half-century. So has the rise of a global master class of rich people who seemingly have everything they could possibly want, travel, houses, fancy cars and watches and restaurants and all the rest that are constantly on display on television -- people see this stuff.

Resentment has always been a central pillar of American politics and thought.
posted by Fnarf at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Thanks for an excellent post, dubold. As a born and raised Connecticut Yankee, this topic is of great interest, and the George Carlin quote "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that" comes to mind... I think many of these yahoos are survivalists who are discontented with the pace of entropy here in the USA, and maybe figure they can speed it up a little with a civil war, in which case their ownership of battle rifles will be vindicated, and they can get rid of the "gun-grabbers" once and for all. Red States vs. Blue States... The beauty of it all is that these donkeys are backed up by big corporate bucks from the NRA and others. Koch Bros, Limbaugh, Glenn Beck -- their own private army. Somebody said "despair for my country" and that seems to pretty well sum it up.
posted by indices at 9:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I cannot explain my attraction to this video of Mark Dice confronting Danny Bonaduce with his 9/11 theory. The whole thing unfolds like a great song I never get tired of hearing.
posted by davebush at 9:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can we please not go into another tedious tug-of-war over the Second Amendment and NRA?

A-fucking-men.

Seriously, let's take all this energy we're expending on re-hashing the gun-control argument again and figure out a way to stop this guy from getting harrassed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


does no one remember the Bush administration? 9/11 Truthism was HUGE during that era. There were ten thousand rumors and legends about every aspect of the Iraq War. People for a New American Century. Hurricane Katrina. The anthrax mail attacks.

All of those topics are still being talked about depending on where you go. I'd be hard pressed to name a place for the mail attacks because I believe the last guy being chased by prosecutors is dead but I believe you could find monthly new posts on those topics on places like "Infowars". Theories about conspiracies go back to before there was a separation from England and are still brought up on parts of the Internet.

anti-establishment conspiracy theories will always be there regardless if it's from the Left or the Right.

Yup. It be nice to seethe meme of 'conspiracy theories are a tool of the left/right' die.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:43 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apocryphon, the difference being that those conspiracy theories (sic) weren't widely reported in the mainstream press as serious possibilities, whereas e.g Travelgate and the question of the murder of Vince Foster were.

And, erm, about all the things you mention there are actually serious questions to be raised: it's not a conspiracy theory to e.g. note that Rumsfeld on 9/11 itself was urging Bush to use it as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq, nor to note that there was a conspiracy to lie the US and the UK into the war. The difference being that unlike the 9/11 was an inside job loons, these things did not depend on executing secret plans flawlessly while involving thousands of bit players, but on the compliancy of the media and the socalled opposition. That Iraq had no WMDs was no secret, it just wasn't reported.

The anthrax mail attacks as well, were very dodgy, in the way they seemed to target particular Democratic politicians and media figures and helped create/extend the climate of fear and paranoia 9/11 had already created

Bush's Nation Guard service: it's no conspiracy to think that it was awfully convenient that he could sit out the War on Vietnam defending Texas, not to mention that there were gaps in his service record never quite explained. That everybody backed down from the story because some wingnuts thought they could deduce the fakeness of documents from badly scanned in copies says more about the cowardice of the media than the truth of the accusations.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:43 AM on January 16, 2013


This thread is way too partisan- does no one remember the Bush administration? 9/11 Truthism was HUGE during that era.

At the time, how many sitting Democratic politicians either endorsed 9/11 trutherism or publicly declared themselves agnostic on the topic? Very few, if any, as I recall. Mainstream liberal writers and thinkers? Not many. It wasn't that huge. And while 9/11 trutherism did appeal to some people on the left, it also appealed to people on the libertarian right. In fact, where was 9/11 trutherism taken up and given a home? That's right: libertarian Alex Jones' little shop of horrors.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


On another note about the universality of conspiracy theories, the State Department has a comprehensive section on them.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:56 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seriously, let's take all this energy we're expending on re-hashing the gun-control argument again and figure out a way to stop this guy from getting harrassed.

Actually, there's some very real questions here, some of which I think have been brought up on the blue before. What level of privacy can people expect? What constitutes harassment? I mean, it's easy with this guy - he seems really nice and sweet, and certainly has not done any wrongs. So we can all agree we don't want him harassed.

But when it comes to rewriting the laws to fix harassment problems, it's kind of hard. What level of bile constitutes actual harassment? To what extent does becoming "A public figure" negate your anti-harassment strictures? And does one exposure a "public figure" make? I can't help but think about those people who were exposed on Twitter about their racist comments and whose school was harassed with calls about them.
posted by corb at 9:56 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It doesn't get a huge amount of play, but there definitely was some Conspiracy talk about Paul Welstone's plane crash back in the day.
Indeed one fellow (James Fetzer) seems to not care if it is right wing or left wing he just loves those out-of-nowhere theories... Was all about the Welston crash being an EMP strike from Bush to kill off one of the more vocal anti-war members of congress, at the same time Fetzer has been promoting Sandy Hook as being Mosad.
posted by edgeways at 9:58 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


no one terrified of the government ever seems to want to cut the defense budget.

I'm all for it, it's why I look forward to our going over the fiscal cliff, as that would mean deep, automatic cuts to the defense budget. (Too bad that's being interpreted there as meaning they'll fire all the contractors.)
posted by Rash at 9:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Methinks your judgement of the volume is politically clouded and using over the top language.

Hard to believe, as that media shitstorm against Clinton was a big part of what turned me (for a stretch of about five years or so) into a batshitinsane anti-government right-wing conspiracy nut who initially bought into all of it and went around convinced Clinton was a cynically manipulative Southern mobster. (Just around the time I was getting to be voting age and starting to become aware of politics as anything more than an abstraction at all, in my weak defense...)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:02 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of outraged tweets in response to this seemingly hypocritical tweet from Piers Morgan: "These ridiculous, vile Sandy Hook 'truthers' don't deserve a moment of airtime or publicity. Just ignore them."
posted by larrybob at 10:08 AM on January 16, 2013


Huh, in class today I said (because of the shooting at a JC yesterday) you guys hear that there was a shooting at a community college?

They immediately started in with the conspiracy shit. I think they were 50% not buying it, 50% thinking that WELL THERE"S SMOKE THERE"S FIRE SO BLAH BLAH.

I really don't handle this conspiracy shit well. Last semester somebody started in with 9/11 truther nonsense and I was all STOP NOW. It sends my annoyance/anger/disgust level to 12, or something.
posted by angrycat at 10:15 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


For gun owners, in particular, they are sitting in the position of just having one of their conspiracy theories spectacularly validated. For years, the idea that "Obama was coming after the guns" was, as Bunnymod said, viewed as a crazy conspiracy theory. Now it is actually true, for anyone who owns high capacity magazines or weapons that would be classified under the new laws as "assault weapons."

And unsurprisingly, it turns out that your claim about conspiracy theories being "spectacularly validated" was...just another conspiracy theory:

Obama’s 23 Planned Executive Actions On Guns
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


Remember when conspiracy theories slowly worked their way around the country by word of mouth or a degraded xerox copy of a previously degraded xerox copy your uncle would show you? Miss those days.
posted by davebush at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


‘I want to see what you look like. I want to see what a person who generates this kind of evil shit looks like. I want to look at your face and tell you you’re an asshole’

Gene Rosen said it best.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hell, there's tons of verified photos, experiment and data that men landed on the moon, but you still have people insisting it was a hoax. They still think thousands of people were able fake something that large, so no, it doesn't surprise me that conspiracy theorists of all types have become known.

They've always been here. Human minds aren't the strongest or most rational things. We see what what we want to see, on a continuing spectrum. Just hang out in AskMe, you'll see insisting that X must true, because dammit they just know it!

Once the robots are running things, we should check humanity into psyche hospital and get us all some art therapy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


it's not a conspiracy theory to e.g. note that Rumsfeld on 9/11 itself was urging Bush to use it as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq

If one goes to sites like free republic and look up that topic, you will find posters who will call the above claim a "Conspiracy Theory". Perhaps even Rumsfeld, if one digs around long enough.

The use of the words "Conspiracy Theory" are a short hand attempt to discredit - so items taken as true by one set of people can be attacked by others. But hey, why believe me when you have a FOIA result which will be entered into this discussion as "a truth".

After the CIA released this document to its Media assets (CIA Press-titutes) the word CONSPIRACY THEORY became part of the language.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:29 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


See Jon Ronson's similar radio story on conspiracy theorists after the 7/7 London bombings . Here's the This American Life version (Act 1)
posted by Bwithh at 10:35 AM on January 16, 2013


This is what I find so problematic about the "conspiracy theory" usage: The bus bombing discussed in the This American Life Story was an actual conspiracy. Some nasty people conspired to blow up a bus. There's already an obvious, evident conspiracy that needs proper investigating before it makes sense to start speculating about what deeper layers their might have been to the conspiracy, obviously, and the more far-fetched variations on those ideas are obviously just crazy. But there was an actual conspiracy in that case, and presumably, there might be reasonable "conspiracy theories" about what happened (such as those that authorities and law enforcement might entertain in trying to assign responsibility for the crime).

But ultimately, there was a legitimate, real conspiracy that needed to be investigated and reasonably theorized about in that case, as in any terrorist attack. You don't have to be a "conspiracy theorist" to believe in criminal conspiracies (as they are actually enshrined in criminal law). So why the confusing language? Can't we just call people who theorize about extraordinarily crazy conspiracies crazy, without having to malign the very idea of theorizing about (potentially real) criminal conspiracies in the abstract in the process?

The people behind this travesty aren't necessarily conspiracy theorists, but opportunistic PR operators and others getting taken along for a ride.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:49 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


MuffinMan: tl,dr: opinions are like arseholes; everyone has one.
And most of them stink.

I don't think I can dial it down enough to be acceptable to post on MetaFilter right now. Please read this sentence as one of my standard profanity-laden diatribes, full of run-on sentences and a web of dependent clauses. I figure I'd go about 500 words before I blew myself out. At least 200 of those words would be profanity. I'm going to go make some coffee and just think for a while…
posted by ob1quixote at 10:49 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, corb, you weren't telling the truth when you claimed (convieniently without evidence) that the NY gun law "required people to sell their firearm or ammunition," either. From the NY AG's office (emphasis mine):
Q: That new definition [for assault rifles] covers my gun. Is the government going to take it away, or force me to sell it?

A: No.
[...]
Q: What about ammunition magazines?

A: Before the law’s passage, a magazine capable of holding 10 or more rounds was unlawful, but any magazine manufactured before 1994 was exempt. Law enforcement officials said this grandfathering provision made the ban difficult to enforce, and it was eliminated in the current law. Now those magazines are banned, but anyone who has one with a “reasonable belief” that it was lawful and disposes of it within 30 days of being notified by a law enforcement official that it is now illegal won’t be guilty of violating the law. Otherwise, it is a Class A misdemeanor charge.

If you already have a magazine that holds up to 10 rounds, you can lawfully keep it, but you can’t load it with more than seven rounds.
Which pretty much puts lie to your other conveniently evidence-free conspiracy theory about the widespread unnamed (of course) "people who work on Obama's team" who have supposedly proposed confiscation laws of which NY's was supposedly an example.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


MartinWisse:
>Technically what you'd call these people are patsies. Bright, but not as bright as they think they are, smart enough to see through the contradictions, wrong assumptions and just plain bad reporting the news media put out, but dumb enough to fall for the first plausible looking true explanation, as long as that reinforces their belief in their own cleverness -- are they engineers by any chance?

Bang on! Well, three of the four are. There's even a paper (PDF, article) showing that, out of all the fields of study, engineering produces by far the most violent radicals.

>Conspiracy fears and paranoia are only stoked when there's a (perceived) threat to the status quo.

That's a good point - it certainly ties with what I saw of the mainstream American left speculating wildly during the Bush years, and then the mainstream right panicking away during the Obama years. Even those outsiders who are against the current status quo will jump up at the same time, because the threat gives them an illusion of momentum.
(And thanks to our lovely media, these days we can have a perceived threat to the status quo served up on a dish about once a month.)
posted by forgetful snow at 10:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NRA has launched a new ad campaign calling President Obama a ‘hypocrite’ for allowing armed Secret Service agents to protect his school aged daughters.

OK, compromise position.

The NRA are allowed school guards, but only when they are trained to Secret Service Presidential Detail standards.
posted by jaduncan at 11:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


any major dude: "If you were personally affected, as long as you need. If you weren't maybe you can share with me why you needed to aid in the grief of those personally affected by subsidizing the media's exploitation of this tragedy? "

Who the hell are you to decide on what basis anyone else can grieve for the victims? I mourn the loss of innocents killed in drone strikes, every shooting victim I read about in the paper, and the victims of Sandy Hook. I mourn those lost in natural disasters, those who die from cancer, and even those who take their own lives. But the idea that the scale my grief must be in direct proportion to the body count unless I'm personally connected to the families of the victims is preposterous.

The media will always make money covering tragic events. That's one of the things we want them to do -- we wouldn't watch otherwise. The fact that they sometimes go too far in their coverage doesn't mean the tragedies themselves aren't worth trying to understand and learn from. If the coverage seems exploitative, I turn it off.

I felt an unbelievable sense of loss at the 2004 Sumatra and 2010 Haiti earthquakes, but natural disasters can't be prevented, only mitigated. Perhaps better building codes could have saved some lives, but there still would have been hundreds of thousands of casualties. Meanwhile, there is evidence that public policy changes could help us avoid the next Sandy Hook, and also put downward pressure on the day-to-day gun violence that kills thousands of victims that don't get the same kind of national media coverage. The Sandy Hook Promise group now has a major platform to affect positive societal change that they would not have had without the media's coverage. I think this is a tradeoff I can accept. The media gets their ratings, we get more coverage of an event that highlights a societal ill and forces people to discuss how to respond to it. Mass shootings are not natural disasters.

rough ashlar: "And why is the magical "American citizens" needed for the grief to happen? Plenty of others are dying of 'kinetic ballistics' brought about by 'machines of death' elsewhere on the planet to, I believe the term is "our fellow human beings"."

So you're hectoring me for noting that the fact that they're Americans just as I am gives me more of a connection to them? Human nature is such that we feel tragedies more personally if we have connections to the victims. Every death is a tragedy, but we feel some more than others. Some people mourned Kurt Cobain more because he spoke to them with his music. Some people are mourning Aaron Swartz more because they shared his beliefs about copyright law and politics. Some people mourn the 9/11 victims more than the victims of foreign terror attacks because they visited the World Trade Center or Pentagon as a kid. These are all legitimate human feelings that can't be wished away by some tautological claptrap about all deaths being tragic.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


NRA TV Ad: Obama ‘Elitist Hypocrite’ Because His Daughters Have Armed Guards

The White House responds
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney condemned the NRA's ad as "repugnant and cowardly," telling CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett, "Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight. But to go so far as to make the safety of the President's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly."

And Mr. Obama's former press secretary and senior adviser, Robert Gibbs, also minced no words in reaction, calling the ad "disgusting on many levels" on MSNBC.

"It's also just stupid," said Gibbs. "This reminds me of an ad that somebody made at about 2 o'clock in the morning after one too many drinks, and no one stopped it in the morning."
posted by ericb at 11:05 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown? -- An interactive infographic.

Spoiler: It's a lot. We should be having this conversation regardless of what happened in Newtown.
posted by schmod at 11:13 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


What's striking to me is how quickly we seem to dehumanize anyone in the unfortunate position of getting mentioned in the national media these days (like this poor guy). Whether they're celebrities, public figures or just innocent bystanders caught up in the big news event of the day, the instant they get screen-time or a mention in the papers, it seems like a significant chunk of us start viewing them as somehow less than human and feel empowered to justify outrageous impositions on their privacy and personal dignity.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That crap is not even worth my time.
posted by michellenoel at 11:17 AM on January 16, 2013


Wait, that NRA ad wasn't another genius Onion piece, like the one about the Taliban's "2012 is best year ever" from the Atlantic/CoS thread?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2013


How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown? -- An interactive infographic.

The National Post has a nice Info Graphic covering the same ground.
posted by mazola at 11:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Further browsing turns up what seems to be a craft page for jewelry featuring his new-agey message. It's likely that this is someone who is mentally ill, who is being taken care of by someone who might not know about his internet activities. It's easy to dismiss this person as a nut-bag conspiracy theorist but it's harder to come to terms with the fact that this is what actual mental illness looks like, to not sensationalize it and to politicize it.

And far more palatable to assume mental illness than an honest belief in past lives and reincarnation.

Or for that matter, a straight out no-bad-publicity profit motive.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:24 AM on January 16, 2013


Anderson Cooper devoted a significant amount of time the other night to the Florida professor's Sandy Hook theories.

Video.
posted by ericb at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2013


Is there anyone out there with some time, snooping ability, and creativity to start making videos alluding to these "truthers" not actually existing and being part of a conspiracy to turn us all into morons?
posted by haplesschild at 11:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


any major dude, in Boston we have an anti-gun violence billboard outside of Fenway. Anyone who takes I-90 goes by this billboard. I used to go by it everyday on the bus when I would take my children to daycare. Everyday. For two years. I would see the count on that billboard go up. And everyday, I would wonder who it was, where it was, and how it happened. Was it suicide? Murder? An accidental discharge? And I'd have the same pangs of grief as I had after hearing what happened in Newtown. I also have a school age child and a spouse who is a teacher, so any violence happening in schools grabs my attention in particular.

I think it is understandable that my reaction is one of criticizing conspiracy theorists. And, yes, the families of Newtown deserve better. They deserved not to have their loved ones taken from them like this. I call that better. But we don't have time travel machines to put right what once went so very terribly wrong. So until we do, they deserve not to have their grief trampled upon by a crazy subset of a crazy faction. They also deserve to be heard above the noise that crazy faction is making. So, yes, they deserve better.
posted by zizzle at 11:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tell Me No Lies, it's actually far more difficult to stomach the indignation of someone denying that Sandy Hook ever happened and to treat them with sympathy. It's quite easy to label them as just another asshole that you're more moral, intelligent, or skeptical than.
posted by dubusadus at 11:49 AM on January 16, 2013


Before the law’s passage, a magazine capable of holding 10 or more rounds was unlawful, but any magazine manufactured before 1994 was exempt. Law enforcement officials said this grandfathering provision made the ban difficult to enforce, and it was eliminated in the current law. Now those magazines are banned, but anyone who has one with a “reasonable belief” that it was lawful and disposes of it within 30 days of being notified by a law enforcement official that it is now illegal won’t be guilty of violating the law.
You could also sell the gun to a licensed retailer in the state, or someone out of state within the next year, provided you comply with the laws in that state and notify officials there. Otherwise, you will not be able to transfer the weapon — even to a family member.
Right, so as I said, New Yorkers who owned until-yesterday-legal magazines will be forced to dispose of them - which is being forced to sell or worse. I thought it was a year, apparently it was 30 days, which, again is even /worse/. And people are unable to pass their weapons to even their children or their spouse - which means that they are, in fact, forced to sell the weapon in their lifetime - according to the very link you posted.

I am not sure how you are disproving my point about people being forced to sell their private possessions, by explaining how people are forced to dispose of or sell their private possessions.
posted by corb at 11:49 AM on January 16, 2013


Obama's kids probably wouldn't need all the SS protective details if there weren't so many nutjobs with easy access to firearms (an ease of access which the NRA is in favor of). Have they forgotten about the dude who shot at the WH last year?
posted by RedShrek at 11:50 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sandy Hook "false flag" conspiracy central. Painfully tin-foil hat.
posted by bz at 11:52 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


These so-called "truthers" are making people who lost children and family members and friends hurt more. They are in the same category as the Westboro Baptist people for me.

If they believe these lies they are spewing, they are horribly deluded. If they are saying these things to score political points without regard to the families and friends of the victims of the Sandy Hook Massacre, they are evil - I don't know another word to describe somebody who goes out of their way to cause harm to another human being in order to further a political goal.

As much as I hate linking Fox, its appropriate in this case:
Although the school distanced itself from Tracy, who has also doubted the official versions of the JFK assassination, 9/11 and even the more recent movie massacre in Aurora, Colo., Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra said the conspiracy theorist has no business drawing a taxpayer-funded paycheck.

"Shame on you, too, FAU, to even have someone like this on your payroll," Llodra, herself a former teacher and school administrator, told FoxNews.com in an email. "Professor Tracy is an embarrassment to me as an educator and should be to you as well. I can assure you, sadly, that the events here in Newtown unfolded exactly as are being reported, with the horrible outcome of the violent death of 26 innocent people, including 20 children.

"It is outrageous and an insult to all caring people to think that this man would chose this event as a stage for his outlandish conspiracy theories," she added, calling his statements "wrong, inconsiderate and insensitive."

...

"Haven't these parents and the community been hurt enough?" she asked.
Our first selectman is basically our mayor. Her last question cuts to the heart of this.

I'll paraphrase another person, though. Have they no sense of deceny?
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:52 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown? -- An interactive infographic.

That looks like some recreation of thermonuclear war on the East coast and Southern Cali. Jesus wept.
posted by angrycat at 11:53 AM on January 16, 2013


The Day of The Gun

The Executive Orders Translated
posted by homunculus at 11:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


haplesschild: Is there anyone out there with some time, snooping ability, and creativity to start making videos alluding to these "truthers" not actually existing and being part of a conspiracy to turn us all into Mormons?

FTFY. If you're going to make it ridiculous you might as well go all the way, turn it on its head and change its course ;)
posted by zombieApoc at 11:57 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


ZombieApoc- how about we split the difference and go with turning us all into Morton's?
posted by haplesschild at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That looks like some recreation of thermonuclear war on the East coast and Southern Cali. Jesus wept.

Ground Zero for gun deaths in California is Oakland these days, not L.A.
posted by Justinian at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2013


After the CIA released this document to its Media assets (CIA Press-titutes) the word CONSPIRACY THEORY became part of the language.

I'm not surprised to see this assertion made on a barely intelligible 9/11 truth blog and I'm not surprised that the writer is wrong, either. Popper was writing about what he called "the conspiracy theory of society" 20 years before that memorandum was thought of and the OED cites an even earlier use of the phrase as early as 1909. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the idea goes back even farther.

Corb, while you're here, could you explain to me again why the police should presume that every gun owner who wishes to give their gun to a police destruction program has a stolen weapon?

Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra said the conspiracy theorist has no business drawing a taxpayer-funded paycheck.

For the record, as reprehensible as Tracy's act is, he shouldn't lose his tenure (if he has it) over this. If tax-payers can pay Glenn Reynolds' salary, then they can pay James Tracy's.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:01 PM on January 16, 2013


Right, so as I said, New Yorkers who owned until-yesterday-legal magazines will be forced to dispose of them - which is being forced to sell or worse.

What part of "If you already have a magazine that holds up to 10 rounds, you can lawfully keep it" was the hardest for you to comprehend?

I thought it was a year, apparently it was 30 days, which, again is even /worse/. And people are unable to pass their weapons to even their children or their spouse - which means that they are, in fact, forced to sell the weapon in their lifetime - according to the very link you posted.

Another false claim. From the link:
Q: What do I need to do to keep my gun under the new law?

A: You must register with the State Police within a year — and pass a background check when you do — and then re-register every five years. A spokesman for the governor said you will not need to pay a fee to do so.

You could also sell the gun to a licensed retailer in the state, or someone out of state within the next year, provided you comply with the laws in that state and notify officials there. Otherwise, you will not be able to transfer the weapon — even to a family member.

Q: Can I still lawfully sell a rifle or a shotgun to someone in a private sale?

A: Yes, but you must now have a licensed firearm dealer perform a background check of your buyer. There’s an exception for the sale or gift of a rifle and shotgun between you and your spouse, domestic partner, child or stepchild.
I am not sure how you are disproving my point about people being forced to sell their private possessions, by explaining how people are forced to dispose of or sell their private possessions.

Well, it certainly doesn't help when you ignore phrasing that says that what you're claiming is a blatant untruth just because it's become inconvenient for you. This is starting to sound disturbingly like when you repeatedly tried to claim Obama was taking away military voting rights in Ohio, which also turned out to be manufactured outrage. In your zeal to make out Obama into some sort of tyrant, you just ignore the words that directly contradict your claims as if that makes them true. And still, you've yet to validate any of the Obama officials or laws that meet your confiscation criteria, let alone in a "spectacular" fashion.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:06 PM on January 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


Obama's kids probably wouldn't need all the SS protective details if there weren't so many nutjobs with easy access to firearms (an ease of access which the NRA is in favor of). Have they forgotten about the dude who shot at the WH last year?

Kidnappings of the kids of someone with that much power are always going to be a risk, even setting aside other nation states.
posted by jaduncan at 12:06 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't buy the Sandy Hook conspiracy, but I wanted to say a couple things. One about why we are seeing more and more conspiracy theories and people supporting them. And another about the possible political leverage of crisis.

First, as others have pointed out upthread, the large-scale belief in conspiracy theories and skepticism of government stories among the general public can very reasonably be understood by the past practices of our own government. I'm going to link to a website some of you may find questionable, but please bear with me: These are just a few, a very small few, of the deceptions and abuses our own government has practiced on us.

My second point is that regardless of what you think of the 9/11 official story, the government's response to it, particularly the intelligence agencies, was amazingly efficient and dramatic. From the illegal domestic spying apparatus put in place and now effectively normalized, to torture, illegal wars, the PATRIOT ACT, pornoscanners and the TSA. I can't even go on. We have had a profound cultural and political shift that will be in place for generations, and it's still shifting.

I've been avoiding these gun threads, but I have to say one thing, particularly after hearing about the President's plan, and upthread comments that there is nothing concerning in it.

Does anybody remember Total Information Awareness? Remember that system diagram showing the components? This is one of those actual programs that is the reason we are seeing increasing paranoia. One of those modules was an input module for personal medical history and data about citizens.

I would like to point out number 2 in zombieflander's list of the President's executive actions:

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

Ahh, legal barriers, I remember that term so well from the debate on the PATRIOT act, and how we had to remove the legal barriers the Church commission (mentioned upthread) put in place.

I realize Sandy Hook was a horrible tragedy. But building a massive mental health database or method for sellers or the government to get easy access to every citizens mental health data is one of the worst possible things I can think of.

I remember Bruce Ivins and how the FBI hounded him and his private psychiatric and social worker records were suddenly being used to discredit him. I remember Opereation CHAOS, initiated against the student protest movements in the 60s and the Black Panthers, where the CIA sought to bring in physicians and use LSD to discredit targets based on their mental health.

In our attempt to break a horrible cycle of violence, poverty and a broken community, we are only going to make people more reluctant to seek the mental health they need.

This isn't a conspiracy theory. This is the very real story of multiple political actors acting in what they think is their own best interest, whether it's liberal concern about gun violence, Democrat's concern with liberal votes, or the intelligence community's continual quest for power and control.

You don't need to believe in some crazy conspiracy theory about the event itself to realize people on all sides are going to take advantage of this.
posted by formless at 12:14 PM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


I could have sworn there was an NPR piece recently that mentioned more recent polls, where the popular opinion towards gun control where the majority polled still were in favor of (more?) gun controls ...
AP/GfK Poll: Gun Control Poll: 6 in 10 Favor Stricter Gun Laws.

CNN/ Time Poll: CNN/Time Poll: Majority Approve Of Obama And Biden In Advance Of Gun Control Announcement.

The Washington Post/ABC News Poll: Half Of Americans Support New Gun Control Laws, Poll Shows.
posted by ericb at 12:18 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Folks, maybe cool it a little.]
posted by cortex at 12:28 PM on January 16, 2013


So, when Grace McDonnell was mentioned in Obama's speech today, and her parents were shown on television as they were present for the speech, we should have turned off our tvs because they wanted privacy?

Some families may not want privacy. Some families want the world to know about the loved ones they lost, so those loved ones can be honored and cherished.

You don't get to decide who gets to grieve or how they get to grieve, and how they may or may not put their grief into action.

Some families have been less public than others about their particular grief. And that is okay. But the brush you are painting, my friend, is far too broad. You do not speak for these families any more than anyone else here does.
posted by zizzle at 12:29 PM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Damn. And here I'd hoped that Millennium Fever would end after December 21. Looks as though the virus has mutated into a more virulent form. Guess if your worldview is one where rampant assault weapons make perfect sense, something's gotta give ... even if it's reality.
posted by Twang at 12:30 PM on January 16, 2013


What part of "If you already have a magazine that holds up to 10 rounds, you can lawfully keep it" was the hardest for you to comprehend?

The part that says
Before the law’s passage, a magazine capable of holding 10 or more rounds was unlawful, but any magazine manufactured before 1994 was exempt. Law enforcement officials said this grandfathering provision made the ban difficult to enforce, and it was eliminated in the current law. Now those magazines are banned, but anyone who has one with a “reasonable belief” that it was lawful and disposes of it within 30 days of being notified by a law enforcement official that it is now illegal won’t be guilty of violating the law.

Another false claim. From the link:
Q: What do I need to do to keep my gun under the new law?

A: You must register with the State Police within a year — and pass a background check when you do — and then re-register every five years. A spokesman for the governor said you will not need to pay a fee to do so.

You could also sell the gun to a licensed retailer in the state, or someone out of state within the next year, provided you comply with the laws in that state and notify officials there. Otherwise, you will not be able to transfer the weapon — even to a family member.

Q: Can I still lawfully sell a rifle or a shotgun to someone in a private sale?

A: Yes, but you must now have a licensed firearm dealer perform a background check of your buyer. There’s an exception for the sale or gift of a rifle and shotgun between you and your spouse, domestic partner, child or stepchild.
So this isn't totally your fault, because this guy is using pretty wibbly language. But how this reads to me is: You can keep your gun if you register it and pass a background check. However, if you cannot or do not wish to do this, you have to sell it within the next year. If you sell it, though, you either need to sell it to a gun dealer in-state, or someone out-state where it's legal. Even family members are not exempt from this - so you cannot give them pre-ban "assault weapons" if they live with you in New York State, because they don't have that exemption for prior possession.

Now you can still sell non-"assault weapon" rifles and shotguns in private sales - but those require background checks, unless it's to your immediate family.

So in short: "assault weapons (new definition)" cannot be transferred to family living in NY
"non-assault" "rifles and shotguns" can be transferred to immediate family.
posted by corb at 12:34 PM on January 16, 2013


... in Boston we have an anti-gun violence billboard outside of Fenway.

And, it's been there since 1995.
A Look Behind The Handgun Billboard on the Mass Pike Near Fenway Park.

Billboard Gallery (1995 - ).

Stop Handgun Violence Facebook Page.
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tell Me No Lies, it's actually far more difficult to stomach the indignation of someone denying that Sandy Hook ever happened and to treat them with sympathy. It's quite easy to label them as just another asshole that you're more moral, intelligent, or skeptical than

If we're going to have an indigni-off, I'm afraid I always give the win to internet diagnoses of mental illness.

You can have sympathy for anyone. No spurious claims of mental health issues required.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:40 PM on January 16, 2013


So this isn't totally your fault, because this guy is using pretty wibbly language. But how this reads to me is: You can keep your gun if you register it and pass a background check. However, if you cannot or do not wish to do this, you have to sell it within the next year. If you sell it, though, you either need to sell it to a gun dealer in-state, or someone out-state where it's legal. Even family members are not exempt from this - so you cannot give them pre-ban "assault weapons" if they live with you in New York State, because they don't have that exemption for prior possession.

The "otherwise" tells me that following the registration and background check is the requirement, i.e. you can go through that or sell it, otherwise you can't transfer ownership. I have no idea how some one "cannot" do that, and if they're refusing to do it they're breaking not just the state law, but that of common sense. I'm sorry, but refusing a determination as to whether a potential armed citizen is a danger to themselves or others due to psychological problems or a violent criminal history is crazy talk.

And just as a reminder, you've come up with a grand total of one state law (2% of all states), and that probably doesn't even do what you initially claimed it does. You made grand accusations of widespread proliferation of state and federal laws that confiscated weapons, which was proven to be completely made up by you. You've claimed that said legislation is coming directly from members of Obama's staff, and yet you have declined to provide a single name or proposed law from said staffer, and can also be presumed to be imaginary. You've claimed that there was validation for these conspiracy theories coming from Obama, and yet there was not a single executive order proposed by Obama today that banned or confiscated a single weapon.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:51 PM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


My second point is that regardless of what you think of the 9/11 official story, the government's response to it, particularly the intelligence agencies, was amazingly efficient and dramatic. From the illegal domestic spying apparatus put in place and now effectively normalized, to torture, illegal wars, the PATRIOT ACT, pornoscanners and the TSA. I can't even go on. We have had a profound cultural and political shift that will be in place for generations, and it's still shifting.

I'm willing to buy the claim that policy wonks had plans bookmarked on disk drives for consolidation of federal law enforcement, expanded surveillance, and military expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq in preparation for a "Remember the Maine" incident. If anything, Bush Jr. proved that the White House is a revolving-door employment agency for the same school of assholes we've had since the Nixon administration, shuffling from White House to think tank and back again, getting pardoned each time they get caught. Preemptively planning to take advantage of a situation is the career and vocation of people like Abrams and Poindexter.

I'm also willing to bet that gun control advocates in congress have file folders filled with draft legislation. That's part of what legislative staff does, and most of that goes nowhere due to lack of sponsorship or an inability to get it out of committee, but it's still done because you never know when the political moment will happen.

What I'm patently skeptical of is that the people at either Sandy Hook or the WTC, or the Pentagon, or the men and women who died in a field in Pennsylvania, were really killed by American wetwork operatives, or didn't die at all.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:53 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think any major dude has a bit of a point. I've always wondered why we as a country eagerly lap up the sort of tragedy porn that the news spews about these types of horrible events. I read the reports that day about Sandy Hook. Have I read about the funerals, or statements from parents, or watched any news coverage of it since then? No - I because I cannot fathom why I would want to know more of the grief, to wallow more in other people's pain. It's awful enough...I do not want to know more of the awfulness. It doesn't help anything. I know other people have other ways of processing these events...but I really don't understand the desire to keep viewing the pain.
posted by agregoli at 12:58 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


America is a very strange place.

Don't be so smug. I had a friend claim that Columbine and Port Arthur were orchestrated by the combined American/Australian governments to push gun control legislation. No word on why only Port Arthur succeeded in doing that, but conspiracy theories still flow around it.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:08 PM on January 16, 2013


What I'm patently skeptical of is that the people at either Sandy Hook or the WTC, or the Pentagon, or the men and women who died in a field in Pennsylvania, were really killed by American wetwork operatives, or didn't die at all.

Right. You don't need to believe the 9/11 conspiracies, or the Sandy Hook conspiracies, to look critically at any policy or legislative results.

But it is important to look critically at political responses to large tragedies. To keep in mind Klein's "disaster capitalism", and realize that the the results of these events will be in place for multiple administrations.

And my major concern pointed out above is the weakening of privacy safeguards for patient data. Both the implications this will have on trust and willingness to seek help, and abuse by those with that information.

I'm purposely ignoring the gun-control aspects of the policy, because that's been done to death and there are too many strong opinions.

The fact that the NRA also supports a mental illness database should be concerning for those who are supporting this policy just for the (very important) violence-related issues.
posted by formless at 1:12 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can an American explain the recurring Truther undercurrent in recent history to me?

Their blue-eyed Jesus hasn't come through with the promise of individual wealth and power he never made, and SOMEBODY IS TO BLAME FOR ALL OF IT.

Fucking psychos, all of them.
posted by tzikeh at 1:15 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Joe Scarborough: Republicans Can Pass Gun Control Or Lose House In Two Years (VIDEO).
posted by ericb at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2013


I'd be interested in hearing how the "Planned Parenthood is a plot to bring on the eugenics of the Blacks" 'theory about a conspiracy' fits into the meme of 'conspiracy theories are all about white privilege'

The majority of the people saying this are white pro-lifers who try to stamp the pro-choicers as racists.
posted by ymgve at 1:53 PM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


No - I because I cannot fathom why I would want to know more of the grief, to wallow more in other people's pain

OK, I totally get and respect what you're saying. However, Rachel Maddow had Ben Wheeler's parents on the other night. Ben was one of the first grade children killed at Newtown. Ben's mother said that after the massacre, the families of these children didn't get mail for two and a half weeks, because there was just too much of it. And she said that people from all over the world wrote "wonderful letters" not only to them, but to their older son, Nate. She said that while she hasn't shared the letters with their surviving son yet, that they will do a lot of good for him in his recovery and in remembering his brother.

So, some might call it tragedy porn, but many people are just kind, loving human beings who want to try to make it better.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:11 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Steve Stockman Threatens To Impeach Obama Over Gun Control Push.

Second GOP Congressman Suggests Impeachment Over Executive Action For Gun Control.
posted by ericb at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2013


Can't we just spread the story that the asshole running sandyhookhoax.com paid Adam Lanza to do it?
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:22 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joe Scarborough: Republicans Can Pass Gun Control Or Lose House In Two Years

I would be shocked beyond all words if the Republicans lost the House in two years no matter what they did short of televised human sacrifice on the floor. The current State-level redistricting that happened over the last few years nearly guarantees a GOP lock on the House for a decade. More people voted for Democrats in the House (you know, the proportional chamber of congress) in the last election but the GOP still maintains a not insignificant majority.
posted by edgeways at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, roomthreeseventeen, you are saying that some of the news watching will result in a reaffirmation of the goodness of human beings? I can get that, I guess.

I'm also confused by people's reactions as far as doing something though - letters to the families expressing sympathy = awesome. Sending a random teddy bear to the town? Not sure why anyone thinks that's an appropriate response, but apparently at least thousands of people thought it was a good idea. Puzzling.
posted by agregoli at 2:30 PM on January 16, 2013


Why are we giving time and attention to these creeps? I only read a few comments and I'm sorry I wasted a part of my life doing that and worst yet, responding.
posted by notreally at 2:42 PM on January 16, 2013


I'd be interested in hearing how the "Planned Parenthood is a plot to bring on the eugenics of the Blacks" 'theory about a conspiracy' fits into the meme of 'conspiracy theories are all about white privilege'

The people funding and propagating this meme are right-wing white people, true, but the reason it has traction is the history of white people practicing eugenics and doing various medical experiments and family-destroying things to people of color. When you look at the residential schools, the way poor mothers are treated, the way the drug war is prosecuted, the way AIDS has pretty much become a disease of poor people of color, the way black children in particular are pathologized and criminalized....and of course, the relentless awful, abusive pressures from much of our "welfare" system (which if you are a white middle class person and have never had to deal with it, you would not fucking believe how awful it is, how racist, how coercive)....well, given how much evidence there is to suggest that many white folks really actually don't want there to be children of color raised in families of color, the argument has legs.

When I was doing abortion rights stuff lo these many years ago, this was all a big point of discussion - how very often white women's framing of access to abortion played into racist narratives and was not really responsive to the reproductive health concerns of women of color.

It is very tricky, because many of the white people on the ground in this situation - clinic workers and fund raisers, people who do material/financial/activist support for reproductive health - are themselves doing racial justice work, working with women of color to get the care that those women need and want. But the white people who are not on the ground often frame the debate in messed up ways and do unhelpful stuff.
posted by Frowner at 2:44 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Steve Stockman Threatens To Impeach Obama Over Gun Control Push.

One reason why I think Obama doesn't try something like the Trillion Dollar Coin is that the right is looking for the smallest pretext they can use to boot him from office. Sure, they can't really try it until at least 2015, but they're trying to find any sort of wedge.
posted by drezdn at 2:50 PM on January 16, 2013


I have a friend who is a "skeptic" regarding the moon landing, 9/11 and now Sandy Hook. He is smart, nice, funny and liberal. It's kind of strange.

One of the things I don't understand is how someone can believe that the government was willing to kill thousands of people in 9/11 but went out of its way to fake the killing of 26 people at Sandy Hook.
posted by brundlefly at 2:54 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


More grist for the gun truther mill. Come for the paranoia, stay for the tasteful YouTube tribute.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:55 PM on January 16, 2013


Jesus Christ, USA. Get a grip. Who are these unkind people? What could be worse than losing your child?
posted by glasseyes at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2013


Jesus Christ, USA. Get a grip.

The people doing this do not represent "USA"
posted by sweetkid at 3:05 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steve Stockman Threatens To Impeach Obama Over Gun Control Push.

Part of me wishes they'd try. It's one thing to try to impeach someone over a blowjob and a bit of technical deceit; it's something else to try to impeach a President for actually doing his job. Of course, the other part of me realizes that we just don't have time for that shit,
posted by octobersurprise at 3:06 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The advertisers tell you quite honestly what they think about the readers who believe this stuff. Advertisers want buyers who believe what they read, and buy it.
The Long Con: Mail-order conservatism, by Rick Perlstein, from The Baffler No. 21 takes a look at the advertising in magazines sold to conservative believers:

—- begin quote —-

… In 2007, I signed on to the email lists of several influential magazines on the right …. Via the battery of promotional appeals that overran my email inbox, I mainlined a right-wing id that was invisible to readers who encounter conservative opinion at face value.

Subscriber lists to ideological organs are pure gold to the third-party interests who rent them as catchments for potential customers. Who better suits a marketing strategy than a group that voluntarily organizes itself according to their most passionately shared beliefs? …

… when I was getting emails every day from Newsmax and Townhall, the come-ons were a little bit different.

Dear Reader, I’m going to tell you something, but you must
promise to keep it quiet. You have to understand that the “elite” would not be at all happy with me if they knew what I was about to tell you. That’s why we
have to tread carefully. You see, while most people are paying attention to the stock market, the banks, brokerages and big institutions have their money somewhere else . . . [in] what I call the hidden money mountain . . .
All you have to know is the insider’s code (which I’ll tell you) and you could make an extra $6,000 every single month.

—– end quote—

That's a long quote but not enough -- do read the linked post.
posted by hank at 3:21 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


hank: Whenever I read that stuff, I think of this Kids in the Hall sketch.

Frankly, when I was required by work to go to one of those appalling Get Motivated seminars, I thought of this same sketch.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:06 PM on January 16, 2013


I totally dig and approve of truthers of all stripes. This is one of the fruits of the instantaneous many-to-many communication mode enabled by the net. Top-down propaganda has much rougher sledding these days.
posted by telstar at 4:12 PM on January 16, 2013


telstar, even when they're denying the tragic deaths of thousands of real people? Even when they bully survivors and family members for what they consider lying?
posted by forgetful snow at 4:20 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


"If you paid attention to the news about this story more than 2 days after it happened you are a fucking ghoul "

That's interesting to me because I could not follow that story past the first day, which felt slightly wrong to me, as though I was shirking my duty as a citizen. But I just could not bring myself to see any of the pictures or hear any of the background stories. I could not stand to know any more than the barest facts of what happened...that was enough. Yet I have the nagging feeling that in allowing myself to look away I was being weak.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:24 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know, maybe because recovering stolen goods is one of the jobs of law enforcement? Whenever someone is pulled over at a traffic stop, they run the plates of the car to check and see if it's stolen, or the person's wanted for anything. Why is that viewed as normal yet the notion of running serial numbers to see if guns are stolen seems like too much hard work for our poor dainty law enforcement?

A gun is not a car. Why do you guys go straight to lame car analogies? Here's one: would you leave a gun in an unlocked car on the passenger seat while you went into the store for a minute? No? Would you leave your car in a parking lot with the car door unlocked while you went into the store for a minute? Is one extremely negligent while the other is no big deal?

If they don't check the serial numbers, how are you so sure that the guns are stolen? Do you think the people turning the guns in are the ones stealing them? And if so, if these people are willing to steal a gun to make some money, why are they exchanging them for $50 supermarket gift cards instead of hundreds to thousands of dollars that an illegal weapon would command on the black market? Goodness of their thieving hearts?

Are you just making shit up and believing it because you feel it's true?
posted by stavrogin at 4:40 PM on January 16, 2013


Reagan’s solicitor general dismisses right’s fantasy about Obama “tyranny”
“These are either standard exercises of presidential power, or even more benignly, standard examples of the power of the president to exhort the public or state officials to be aware of certain problems and to address them,” Charles Fried, who was Reagan’s solicitor general during his second term, told me today.

Fried noted that some of the provisions are merely “use of the bully pulpit.” What he means is that provisions such as “launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign” and “challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies” to promote gun safety merely constitute the use of presidential stature to advocate. “If that’s an impeachable offense, then the president has just lost his first amendment rights,” Fried said.

Referring to provision number 11, Fried joked: “Is it an impeachable offense to nominate an ATF director?”

Fried noted that other provisions — such as directing the Attorney General to review categories of people prohibited from gun ownership, and addressing “unnecessary legal barriers” that prevent states from sharing info with the background check system — merely constitute a vow to review existing laws with an eye towards improving them. “How can there be anything offensive about the Attorney General reviewing existing legislation to see if there are any loopholes?” Fried asked.

Fried noted that still others — such as “provide law enforcement” with “proper training” for “active shooter situations” — were merely “vague” and “aspirational.”

Another one that’s bound to generate noise: “Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.” But the only thing that would make this controversial, as NBC News points out today, is the false belief that the health law outlaws this in the first place.

“Overreach would mean that the President is using a power he doesn’t have,” Fried concluded. “There’s nothing here that has to be understood in that way.”
posted by zombieflanders at 5:08 PM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


telstar, even when they're denying the tragic deaths of thousands of real people? Even when they bully survivors and family members for what they consider lying?

Hah, when they call up people from the broadcast news, that kind of truther shows that they take the news even more seriously than the average viewer. No, I don't consider calling up faces from the news fair play, or even important. Entirely the wrong direction, that.
posted by telstar at 5:18 PM on January 16, 2013


Truthers are the price you pay for so many mainstream media lies. I love watching that payment come due!
posted by telstar at 5:48 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone needs a hobby.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:21 PM on January 16, 2013


Truthers are the price you pay for so many mainstream media lies. I love watching that payment come due!

You must be real popular at women's shelters.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:23 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


. Popper was writing about what he called "the conspiracy theory of society" 20 years before that memorandum was thought of and the OED cites an even earlier use of the phrase as early as 1909. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the idea goes back even farther.

Feel free to post links to such if you have 'em.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:23 PM on January 16, 2013


Truthers are the price you pay for so many mainstream media lies. I love watching that payment come due!

This makes no sense. Who is paying? Who is owed? What the hell are you talking about?
posted by odinsdream at 6:30 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Truthers are the price you pay for so many mainstream media lies. I love watching that payment come due!

If you read that in Charlton Heston's voice from the opening scenes of Planet of the Apes, it sounds less sociopathic and more garden variety assholish.
posted by mph at 6:31 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Truthers are the price you pay for so many mainstream media lies. I love watching that payment come due!

Yeah, because conspiracy theories such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (or, indeed, the Pope being the antichrist, the evil Grand Vizier, etc. etc. ad nauseam) completely only kicked in when mainstream media did. Low information observers have always been idiots, and that's not to do with their media. They were idiots before mass media was invented.
posted by jaduncan at 6:31 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


This makes no sense.

Only after one understands that the media exists to sell ads and make money - not as some kind of "truth source".
posted by rough ashlar at 6:40 PM on January 16, 2013


“Overreach would mean that the President is using a power he doesn’t have,” Fried concluded. “There’s nothing here that has to be understood in that way.”

No, actually, overreach would mean doing something he shouldn't do, whether or not it's officially in his power.

'Legal' does not mean 'justified' or 'correct'.
posted by Malor at 6:46 PM on January 16, 2013


Feel free to post links to such if you have 'em.

I have faith that you can make your own way to a copy of Karl Popper's Open Society and to the OED.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:12 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesus wept, rough ashlar, you have been an enormous asshole in this thread. The link to "conspiracy theory" in the OED is only open to subscribers, but it's mentioned in the Wikipedia article "Conspiracy Theory".

Here's Karl Popper on "the conspiracy theory of society".

Here's Richard Hofstadter's original essay on "the paranoid style in American politics".

Stop arguing in bad faith.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:50 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't forget the Monita secreta of 1611, a really bullgoose conspiracy theory, and the great-great-grandfather of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Elizabethan England was rife with conspiracy theories, of which the most famous was Leicester's Commonwealth, a dreary book without the verve of your Alex Joneses, but which still got a lot of people up in arms.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:58 PM on January 16, 2013


And of course, in Cicero's In Verrem, he advances the conspiracy theory that Verres has betrayed the trust of the Roman people by fabricating conspiracies against the Roman provincial government in order to explain away what Cicero characterizes as just anger in response to Verres's enabling one of his cronies to rape a young woman.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:12 PM on January 16, 2013


Elizabethan England was rife with conspiracy theories

Heh, oddly I almost wrote a bit going into all the Marry Queen of Scots/Cardinal Beaton/Earl of Arran stuff.

The claim that conspiracy theories are modern seems so self-obviously bullshit on the face of it that frankly I couldn't be bothered to link things up.
posted by jaduncan at 8:20 PM on January 16, 2013


[Folks, it is now time to disengage with the people who are bothering you and either bring them up in MetaTalk or ignore them. rough ashlar, if people are not having the conversation you want to have here, please do not continue to try to make this thread about you.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:22 PM on January 16, 2013


*Mary, obviously.
posted by jaduncan at 8:41 PM on January 16, 2013


There are some really, really strong commonalities, and actually, none of them involve mental illness. Some of the people spouting the craziest conspiracies are some of the brightest I know.

Just a quick note: mental illness does not equal stupidity. Mental illnesses are diseases which can strike anyone.

And yeah, there's significant overlap between conspiracy theorists and people suffering from mental illness. My guess is that if your rationality is impaired, it's easier for the conspiracies to sneak under your radar. But I doubt there's more than a correlation here, no causation in either direction.

I'd definitely like to read more research about how conspiracy theories are formed and accepted. I feel like without a solid understanding based on facts rather than anecdotes, we won't be able to properly tackle things like these Sandy Hook Truthers who are harassing survivors.
posted by harriet vane at 8:43 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I *hate* those people.
posted by mike3k at 9:45 PM on January 16, 2013


I don't think anyone could argue far-fetched or politically motivated conspiracy theories are strictly a modern phenomenon. But the accelerated rate of such conspiracy theorizing, and the amount of traction these theories get with high profile political figures and the general public now--and how often these paranoid beliefs are now aimed at essentially powerless individuals and even have a disruptive impact on the cohesion of ordinary social life (as in this case, in which a private citizen who only made the mistake of behaving decently in the middle of a heinous public tragedy became a target for mob ire) are relatively concerning, newer developments that I think reflect a deeper (probably transitory, but no less real) decline in trust and good faith in our culture/society.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:04 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't ignore the elephant in the room: Whether it's only due to changing perceptions or due to a real, meaningful shift in cultural notions of honor and integrity, people don't trust each other very much anymore. That's got to be a factor in all this--even allowing for the possibility that the battier conspiracy theorizing has something psychological at its root.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:07 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mental illnesses are diseases which can strike anyone.

Even nobel prize winners.
posted by empath at 10:19 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jon Stewart Trashes NRA: They Must Be A Michael Moore-Run Covert Op To Make Gun Owners Look Stupid
posted by homunculus at 10:53 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can I just chime and applaud Gene Rosen for being a very decent human being? He opened his home and his heart, brought the kids stuffed animals and sat down with them.

And he's probably going to struggle with this for a long time, even without the conspiracy theorist shitstorm. A quote from the end of the article:

A couple of hours after the last child left, a knock came on his door. It was a frantic mother who had heard that some children had taken refuge there. She was looking for her little boy.

"Her face looked frozen in terror," Rosen said, breaking down in tears.

"She thought maybe a miracle from God would have the child at my house," he said. Later, "I looked at the casualty list ... and his name was on it."


Hang in there, Mr. Rosen!

.
posted by Harald74 at 1:50 AM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


fleetmouse: "Shorter Conspiracy Theorist: anything I don't like is secretly a hologram created by Jewishes."

Because...

Jewishness.
posted by Samizdata at 8:25 AM on January 17, 2013


I'd probably have paid less attention to Sandy Hook if my screen wasn't bombarded on a daily basis in the weeks afterward with propaganda that my wonderful, loving, open-minded, and tolerant atheist way of life was responsible.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:36 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


ob1quixote: "
MuffinMan:tl,dr: opinions are like arseholes; everyone has one.
And most of them stink.
"

Because they are so often full of shit?

Sorry. All the seriousness was really grinding at me as I was catching up on this thread.
posted by Samizdata at 9:20 AM on January 17, 2013


The BBC had a program on I haven't heard on NPR -- maybe they chose to not play it but for the dead of night because I think NPR has a greater tendency to soften blows of bad news more than the BBC does.

And it was an interview with two of the parents about how they were in that place, looking for their kids, looking, looking, one parent is told, your son is somewhere here. And then all the survivors go home and the adults look at each other and there is this thunderous moment where they realize why they are still waiting.

The mother who was told that her son was okay found out the next day he had been shot as his teacher tried to shield him with her body.

I bawled. There are things that just should not be.
posted by angrycat at 11:49 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the interview you're talking about. It's a tough one -- asking people to describe the unthinkable. I cannot imagine what they experienced.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:45 PM on January 17, 2013


The United States in a nation with an entire percent of its population being used as forced convict labor. It's a nation which has suspended habeas corpus for political prisoners. It's a nation with a war on drugs that's turned most of its people into criminals and its southern neighbors into nightmarish paramilitary desperadoes. It's a nation that cannot and will not stop funneling its good faith and credit, and the commonwealth of its citizens into the hands of a tiny high finance elite. It's a nation that systematically vaporizes foreign civilians with sky robots and wants to bring those sky robots to bear on the home front.

I don't give a shit about crime stats, or kids getting killed by maniacs, or household accidents. Sorry. Nor do I care how crazy and wrong the tinfoliers are. Try as I might I just can't be fucked to care.

Until America stops being an imperialist police state I want as many of us as armed as possible.
posted by clarknova at 5:42 AM on January 18, 2013


Why, are you planning to start killing cops?
posted by empath at 5:48 AM on January 18, 2013


Until America stops being an imperialist police state I want as many of us as armed as possible.

You know what - I've heard this kind of "we're one step away from the jackbooted thugs" talk get tossed around as an excuse to keep guns for a long time now, and not heard any compelling evidence for the situation being as dire as they claim.

So - I'm gonna call the bluff and ask: if people really think that the situation is this dire, why aren't they doing something about it rather than just stockpiling guns like Smaug? Why aren't these freedom-fighters actually, you know, fighting to take back the country right now? What on earth are they waiting for?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:04 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't give a shit about crime stats, or kids getting killed by maniacs, or household accidents. Sorry. Nor do I care how crazy and wrong the tinfoliers are. Try as I might I just can't be fucked to care.

woo boy.
posted by edgeways at 6:18 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


So - I'm gonna call the bluff and ask: if people really think that the situation is this dire, why aren't they doing something about it rather than just stockpiling guns like Smaug? Why aren't these freedom-fighters actually, you know, fighting to take back the country right now? What on earth are they waiting for?

How do you know that's all they're doing? Is that a culture wars stereotype or do you have some actual data to demonstrate firearm owners are less involved in politics and their communities?
posted by clarknova at 6:22 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do you know that's all they're doing? Is that a culture wars stereotype or do you have some actual data to demonstrate firearm owners are less involved in politics and their communities?

I'm not questioning their involvement in the community, I'm questioning their claimed need for guns. Hell, I'm involved in my community without feeling the need to assemble an arsenal behind me, so "community involvement" isn't the issue here.

What is at issue is the claim that "we need guns because we are living in a police state and will need to fight back." If people really think our rights are already at a point where they're being trampled such that revolution is all that can get it back, then why not act on that assumption now?

Unless you don't think our rights are already at that point, in which case what do you need the guns for?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on January 18, 2013


Well, I have heard news reports about stockpiling guns and language about King Obama and Rush Limbaugh mocking Obama for expressing reservations about the scenario of dying by gun fire. I have not heard one single moment about X problem and here is a list of ten policy proposals to address x problem.

Also, imperialist state -- so, the idea is that we all have guns and then drone strikes stop happening?

I dunno, maybe because I heard that interview I referenced like, yesterday, and I know this is not appeal to reason but hearing about a mother say in a small voice that the fact her son died in his teacher's arms after they were both shot at close range, I have to say, clarknova, what the fuck are you going on about.
posted by angrycat at 6:55 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Clarknova, I support the Second Amendment on a general level. However, I am against assault weapons (and by assault weapons I mean weapons with a fully automatic setting) for the following two reasons.

1) They are notoriously imprecise. Everybody and their mom knows that the easiest way to hit a target you are aiming for is either single-shot mode or three-round burst mode. Therefore the only logical use of an automatic setting is when target selection is not a high priority (eg, firing into a crowd). Short of the zombie apocalypse, it is hard for me to visualize a scenario where firing into a crowd would be a desirable thing for society.

2) If the government wants to get you, armed force will not stop them. Your belief that weapons will keep you safe from a fascist police state is incredibly naive. I mean, you've already devoted some time to talking about "sky robots" - how do you think your assault rifle will keep you safe from a drone strike? Are you going to gun down the missile it fires at you from 10,000 feet up? Guns can keep you safe from street crime, but they are generally pretty useless for purposes of armed resistance against the government. Based on the current technology available to our military, if there ever was a rebellion against the government, the smartest tactic for the rebels to use would not be open warfare but rather anonymity and assassination. In other words, even in that worst-case scenario, carrying a large rifle would thus be completely counterproductive to your stated goals. You'd want to blend in, not stand out.

Most significantly, you really do your cause a disservice when you say stuff like this:
"I don't give a shit about crime stats, or kids getting killed by maniacs, or household accidents. Sorry. Nor do I care how crazy and wrong the tinfoliers are. Try as I might I just can't be fucked to care."

It really bothers me when you say stuff like this, because there are reasonable people out there who support the Second Amendment and are willing to have civil discussions about gun control. (Corb would be an excellent example of such, and I am another.) But when you go on a rant like this (and you need to be honest with yourself, when you're going off about how you don't care if kids are killed, that's totally a rant) you make yourself the visible public face of all Second Amendment supporters. Is that what you want people to think? That people who support the right to carry don't care at all about kids? Do you genuinely not care about kids deaths, or was that just rhetorical overkill? It's one thing to be logical and recognize that some ideals are worth making a sacrifice for. But saying you don't care at all is just really messed up. I hope that once you've calmed down and gotten that passionate diatribe out of your system, you'll recognize that and consider retracting your hurtful and poorly-chosen words.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:25 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unless you don't think our rights are already at that point, in which case what do you need the guns for?

I believe, as George Washington said, "the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference."

Their presence itself has an effect on the culture. The Reagan era saw an enormous expansion of police power and brutality. That hasn't gone away. No-knock raids, warrentless home invasions based on probable cause, multi-decade sentences for victimless crimes... these have and continue to be a failure of our democracy. But as bad as it's been, I believe the drug war would have been much worse for us if police didn't have to consider there's a firearm in every closet.

Your imagination of how an armed population can influence politics is limited to fantasies of open rebellion. Your only image of gun owners is of fetishists in basements impotently worshiping deadly phallic symbols. But you are not in a position of great power, nor are you concerned with maintaining one. The image the powerful have of an armed population is very different.

In an era of enormous wealth inequality, in which oligarchs effectively own and operate the state, I don't see anything to be gained by granting that class of people a further monopoly on violence. It doesn't matter to me how screwball the ignunt redneck underclass is, or how ludicrous their worldviews. I want them all armed to the teeth. I want that to factor into any political calculus the ruling class has to make.


..and I know this is not appeal to reason but...

See? On some level you already know "think of the children" arguments are crap. Try consuming less sensationalist media and you might feel less compelled to make them.


I am against assault weapons (and by assault weapons I mean weapons with a fully automatic setting) for the following two reasons.

Good thing they're already banned, then.

But when you go on a rant like this (and you need to be honest with yourself, when you're going off about how you don't care if kids are killed, that's totally a rant)

I'm being more honest with both of us by admitting it rather than denying it. A lot of people care. A lot of people don't. I have a sense of proportion, so I don't. The flu claimed more children this winter than a hundred Sandy Hooks. Where is the public outcry for more federal action on seasonal vaccine research? That is a cause celebre I could find myself rallying to. But it doesn't exist. Those lost lives are diffuse, and not all of those children may be the right color or live in the nicest neighborhoods. A handful of little blond kids dying in a single bloody massacre is much more exciting. That's why the TV cares, and hence why you care.
And why I don't.
posted by clarknova at 7:47 AM on January 18, 2013


clarknova: "The flu claimed more children this winter than a hundred Sandy Hooks."

That's a bit of hyperbole - the CDC is reporting 29 pediatric deaths in the 2012-2013 flu season. We could compare that to children killed by guns during the same period, but that data has been difficult to come by.
posted by jquinby at 8:03 AM on January 18, 2013


I believe, as George Washington said, "the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference."

But if the government is as powerful as you claim, doesn't this mean that firearms aren't even preventing this "evil interference", giving lie to this theory?

Wait, let me try asking the question another way. Ostensibly you want people to be "as armed as possible" with the understanding that, at some certain point, those arms would be used. Can you tell me why you do not feel we are at the point of using those arms yet, and also at what point we should use those arms?

Or are you just assuming that the government fears an uprising already? If that's the case, then why hasn't the government backed down earlier? Moreover, does this mean that you never intend for people to use their guns? If so, what is the purpose of selling bullets if these guns are never to be fired?

Finally, if you what you seek is a populace able to protect itself from this government, then do you feel that people should arm themselves to an equal degree as the government? Meaning, do you also think that people should be able to legally purchase, own, and collect ICBMs? Tanks? Jet fighters? Warrior drones?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:04 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good thing they're already banned, then.

No, they are not. The Federal Assault Weapons ban expired in 2004, and has not been renewed. Furthermore, if you look up gun control laws by state, you'll see that quite a few have no restrictions on assault weapons.

A handful of little blond kids dying in a single bloody massacre is much more exciting. That's why the TV cares, and hence why you care.
And why I don't.


It's hard for me to know how to respond to that. I suppose all I can say is that I would like to formally state "for the record" that even though we both respect the Second Amendment, your views absolutely do not reflect mine, and I hope that if this debate continues any MeFites participating will take note of this and make sure not to conflate our respective beliefs.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:05 AM on January 18, 2013


It doesn't matter to me how screwball the ignunt redneck underclass is, or how ludicrous their worldviews. I want them all armed to the teeth. I want that to factor into any political calculus the ruling class has to make.

The hilarity and hypocrisy of this is that there's almost undoubtedly quite a large overlap between the "ignunt redneck underclass" and the people that support all those things you think they will rise up against: "being used as forced convict labor" (removal of worker's rights), suspension of habeas corpus for political prisoners, the war on drugs (or at least harsher drug laws, "funneling its good faith and credit, and the commonwealth of its citizens into the hands of a tiny high finance elite" (deregulation of financial institutions), and "systematically vaporizing foreign civilians with sky robots and wants to bring those sky robots to bear on the home front" (drone strikes abroad and at home). Out of all of those, the only one that doesn't have majority or plurality support amongst all Americans is the drug war, but conservatives often go against the majority in that case.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:13 AM on January 18, 2013


I believe, as George Washington said, "the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference."

Their presence itself has an effect on the culture. The Reagan era saw an enormous expansion of police power and brutality.


Then perhaps you have an explanation for why gun ownership remained fairly static under Reagan and only started to fall after he left office? Because by your rationale, that expansion shouldn't have happened until the "atmosphere of firearms everywhere" died down post-Reagan.

Furthermore, gun ownership rose precipitously under the end of Bush I and Obama's first term, so why hasn't there been a correlation in the reduction of "evil interference?" After all, we seem to have more anti-worker laws, the war of drugs continues, drone usage is increasing, etc., not less.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:25 AM on January 18, 2013


But if the government is as powerful as you claim, doesn't this mean that firearms aren't even preventing this "evil interference", giving lie to this theory?
I didn't claim any scope for its power. Like much of your rebuttals, this is a fantasy of my position.


That's a bit of hyperbole - the CDC is reporting 29 pediatric deaths in the 2012-2013 flu season.

True. You're correct and I was flatly wrong. It only claimed one more life than the Sandy Hook massacre. Therefore those flu deaths, or any other class of preventable child deaths, doesn't deserve the same intensity and duration of public attention, or the media orgy sustaining it.
And they're not going to get it, are they.



No, they are not. The Federal Assault Weapons ban expired in 2004, and has not been renewed.

The 1968 prohibition on fully-automatic weapons, which was your definition of "assault weapon", did not expire. What you consider an assault weapon and what the law considers one are fundamentally different. The Federal Assault Weapons ban didn't touch upon yours.



The hilarity and hypocrisy of this is that there's almost undoubtedly quite a large overlap between the "ignunt redneck underclass" and the people that support all those things you think they will rise up against...

I don't think they will at all. You're correct in identifying it as a hypocrisy, but incorrect as identifying it as mine. Those people always support corrupt conservative regimes no matter how repressive or brutal they get. Like I said, their worldview is for screwballs. But they also rattle sabers against corrupt neoliberal regimes. I see only cosmetic differences between the two, and to me it's good that at least one feels a little less secure with all the gun nuts running around.
I'd love to see American liberals equally paranoid, armed, and vociferous. Instead the best they can do is puppets and getting pepper sprayed in public parks.

Then perhaps you have an explanation for why gun ownership remained fairly static under Reagan and only started to fall after he left office? Because by your rationale, that expansion shouldn't have happened until the "atmosphere of firearms everywhere" died down post-Reagan.
See above.
posted by clarknova at 8:40 AM on January 18, 2013


I didn't claim any scope for its power.

You directly followed this with the scope of the power of the Reagan era.

Like much of your rebuttals, this is a fantasy of my position.

If its a fantasy, its a result of your phrasing, not anyone else's comprehension. And if you're going to make this personal, then perhaps the time has come to disengage per jessamyn's suggestion.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:50 AM on January 18, 2013


I believe, as George Washington said, "the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference."

George Washington's "Liberty Teeth Speech" Was Never Uttered By Him.
posted by ericb at 8:56 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bogus Quotes Attributed to the Founders: The "Liberty Teeth" Speech by George Washington.
posted by ericb at 8:59 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


> But if the government is as powerful as you claim, doesn't this mean that firearms aren't even preventing this "evil interference", giving lie to this theory?

I didn't claim any scope for its power. Like much of your rebuttals, this is a fantasy of my position.


I don't understand what you mean by this. Who is "its" power? The government or the private gun collections? Whose power are you "not claiming any scope for"?

And am I to assume that you are preparing your answers to the rest of my questions?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on January 18, 2013


This is a false quote, but bits and pieces of it still continue to crop up from time to time. Even national publications, such as Playboy magazine, have been snared by it. (Playboy published the "quote" in December 1995 as part of an article entitled "Once and for All: What the Founding Fathers Said About Guns". After consulting with an assistant editor of the George Washington Papers at the University of Virginia, Playboy published a lengthy correction in March 1996.) *
posted by ericb at 9:01 AM on January 18, 2013


Abstract: Once and for all: what the founding fathers said about guns.
Article from: Playboy | December 1, 1995 | Petersen, James R.
posted by ericb at 9:07 AM on January 18, 2013


That's a pity. I still agree with the sentiment regardless. It is demonstrably true for Switzerland, for example.
I would love to read the piece you linked but (also a pity) I don't subscribe to Playboy. I hear it has fascinating articles.

And am I to assume that you are preparing your answers to the rest of my questions?

You can if you like.
posted by clarknova at 9:17 AM on January 18, 2013


The Reagan era saw an enormous expansion of police power and brutality.

Reagan understood gun control.
While still president in 1986, Reagan signed into law the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which was hailed by gun rights advocates because it included numerous protections for gun owners. However, it also banned ownership of any fully automatic rifles that were not already registered on the day the law was signed.

Then, in 1991, four years after the controversial Brady Bill was introduced in Congress and with passage again in doubt, Reagan penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled "Why I'm for the Brady Bill." In it, he expressed support for a seven-day waiting period before a purchaser could take possession of a handgun, an even more stringent restriction than the five-day cooling-off period that was included in the final legislation, and less stringent than the 15-day cooling-off period he signed into law as governor of California. Reagan stated that prohibitions on sales to felons, drug addicts and the mentally ill had "no enforcement mechanism" and that "a uniform standard across the country" was necessary.

Regarding handguns, Reagan stated, "This level of violence must be stopped. ... If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land."

Finally, in 1994, Reagan successfully threw his support behind the Assault Weapons Ban in a joint letter to the Boston Globe, saying, "As a longtime gun owner and supporter of the right to bear arms . I am convinced that the limitations imposed in this bill are absolutely necessary." The ban on assault weapons had a sunset provision and lapsed in 2004, and many gun advocates have strongly opposed any attempts to pass it again, including after the Newtown massacre.
posted by ericb at 9:18 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


As usual the anti-gun-control voices are the best advocates for gun control imaginable.

Keep it up!
posted by unSane at 9:21 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Cut it out.]
posted by cortex at 9:22 AM on January 18, 2013


I would love to read the piece you linked ...

You can. "Read all of this article – and millions more – with a FREE, 7-day trial" at HIGHBeam Business
posted by ericb at 9:28 AM on January 18, 2013


clarknova, you can also read what the Second Amendment Foundation has said about that quote, among other bogus quotes, if you'd rather not sully yourself with Playboy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on January 18, 2013


That's a pity. I still agree with the sentiment regardless. It is demonstrably true for Switzerland, for example.

Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland are not gun-toting utopias
posted by zombieflanders at 10:08 AM on January 18, 2013


Why the Moon Landings Could Have Never EVER Been Faked: The Definitive Proof
posted by zombieflanders at 3:40 PM on January 18, 2013


Why the Moon Landings Could Have Never EVER Been Faked: The Definitive Proof

That would have been really interesting if I had any idea what half the video terms he was talking about were or meant -- it's pretty much aimed at people who have an excellent knowledge of the history of video, who are probably also not really those who doubt. (I don't actually doubt it, but I wish there had been a lot of explanation there.)
posted by jeather at 4:29 PM on January 18, 2013


So, I received an e-mail today from somebody who read some of my comments on the original Sandy Hook thread about being from Newtown who says I was clearly paid by Obama (specifically "Obama's thugs") to convince people that the Sandy Hook "hoax" was real. I thought he was insane because it was like 3,000 words long, but I did some copying and pasting into google and found that he was borrowing liberally (sic) from the site bz linked above. So now I don't think he's insane so much as lazy.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:00 PM on January 18, 2013


The Secret History of Guns: The Ku Klux Klan, Ronald Reagan, and, for most of its history, the NRA all worked to control guns. The Founding Fathers? They required gun ownership—and regulated it. And no group has more fiercely advocated the right to bear loaded weapons in public than the Black Panthers—the true pioneers of the modern pro-gun movement. In the battle over gun rights in America, both sides have distorted history and the law, and there’s no resolution in sight.
posted by homunculus at 7:13 PM on January 18, 2013


Sandy Hook "false flag" conspiracy central. Painfully tin-foil hat.

Said site has a page - internet rumors http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/internet-rumors-true-or-false has a colour coded "is it true, has some grain of truth, or is not true" analysis that features many of the Sandy Hook pages. (It doesn't break down the green 'part truth' links the way I'd like)

The claim of 'conspiracy central' ignores how that site has the rating of the claims - go ahead find 'conspiracy central' sites that rate what they are posting.

One that is labled as "wacko" by the fine members of Blueistan - the crisis actor one is a "blue" link and "blue" links are labelled as "False rumors are colored blue. "

Its almost like the people of the blue have trouble actually reading and understanding what a web site says in a desperate effort to have their hurf-durf.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:27 PM on January 18, 2013


Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland are not gun-toting utopias
Why the Moon Landings Could Have Never EVER Been Faked: The Definitive Proof


I never claimed Swizerland was a utopia. Just that they owe their historical autonomy and independence in part to being well armed and easily mobilized against invaders.
If if you need to paint anyone who isn't on your bandwagon as a flat-earther, your position just might might be a little fragile.


"Read all of this article – and millions more – with a FREE, 7-day trial" at HIGHBeam Business
Are they paying you commission or something?


The Reagan era saw an enormous expansion of police power and brutality.
Reagan understood gun control.


You realize you're making my point even more radically than I cared to, right?
posted by clarknova at 7:54 PM on January 18, 2013


Its almost like the people of the blue have trouble actually reading and understanding what a web site says in a desperate effort to have their hurf-durf.

Hey, I don't know, maybe the stuff at that site was copied and pasted from somewhere else that is an actual Truther source. That's what came up in the search.

I'm not sure how getting a hostile email from a stranger for saying I was sad my town got shot up on Metafilter counts as hurf-durf, but as the kids say, "whatever."

Or at least as the kids said in 1993.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:42 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are they paying you commission or something?

You expressed a regret that you couldn't read the article. You were offered a chance to read it for free. Instead of thanking someone for that chance to read the article you said you wished you could read, you made a snide joke.

I leave it to you to consider exactly what point it is you are making about either yourself or about gun owners.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


[This is sort of devolving into people just sniping at each other; maybe ease back on that?]
posted by taz at 5:57 AM on January 19, 2013


Clarknova, pediatric flu deaths don't receive the same media attention because we have reasonable precautions we can take against the flu. You get a flu shot. You wash your hands and wipe down surfaces. You seek medical attention. But people get sick, and sometimes die. From illness.

Gun deaths require someone to point the gun and pull the trigger. Gun deaths are always at the hand of someone ---- someone is always responsible, whether suicide, murder, or being a dick and shooting celebratory fire into the air on New Year's Eve.

So your equivalency between flu deaths and gun deaths do not hold water.

And for that matter, in the past few weeks on my local news I learned of a 12 year old boy shot in the stomach while walking to choir practice. And a six year old child who died from the flu. So the media coverage could very well be a matter of #regional as well.
posted by zizzle at 6:03 AM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hey, I don't know, maybe the stuff at that site was copied and pasted from somewhere else that is an actual Truther source.

Gosh, gee. The page I cited says:
We regularly get email or read on the Internet about this or that alarming alleged fact. Is it true the FDIC will end its coverage of all insured deposits? Are there really FEMA camps in America? Can we withdraw large amounts of cash from our own bank accounts? Did Obama declare martial law? Is there really a powerful and depraved global elite?

So yes their website IS stuff from other places on the internet.

If one is trying to make the case "look at the crazy" - why pick a site that then says:
This page contains links to posts FOTM has published on some of these rumors, which are the results of our efforts to find confirming or disconfirming evidence for the rumor. False rumors are colored blue. True rumors are colored red (please go to our “Police State/NWO” page for many more links to posts on the very real Agenda 21). Rumors that are not definitively true but there are reasons to believe they are true are colored green.

Wouldn't have been better to pick a site that presented the same sets of data and wrapped it up as "These things are the truth" if your goal was to find some kind of "Truther" site case?

Now, if one wants to call 'em 'crazy' - why not point out the religious bent and the believe that a sky god controls all? Or is a belief in religion hit a little to close to home in the "Truther" hurf-durf debate?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:11 AM on January 19, 2013


Media giant CNN has now been caught airing what appears to be “active-shooter drill footage” from another school location and passing it off as the LIVE breaking news feed of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that was reported to take place on the 14th of December, 2012 in the morning.

(going to that link will also make charges of high treason so one can take it with a 5 lbs bag of salt if CNN did do what was charged - aired footage either as deception or error - of stuff that wasn't what it was claimed to be. )
posted by rough ashlar at 8:18 AM on January 19, 2013


Bill Maher On Gun Rights vs. Privacy: Second Amendment Isn't Under Attack, Everything Else Is (VIDEO).
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gun FAILS: Second Amendment Rights Gone Wrong In Honor Of 'Gun Appreciation Day' (VIDEO).
posted by ericb at 11:13 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gun FAILS: Second Amendment Rights Gone Wrong In Honor Of 'Gun Appreciation Day' (VIDEO).


When CCTV recordings of gun wielding robbers started showing up in the eighties they provided a very visceral "Here are real guns waved in the faces of real citizens" gimmick for the pr-gun lobby.

And now we have ubiquitous recording and YouTube.

The video it giveth, and the video it taketh away.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:11 PM on January 19, 2013


I never claimed Swizerland was a utopia. Just that they owe their historical autonomy and independence in part to being well armed and easily mobilized against invaders.

Which is complete hogwash. Switzerland owes their comparatively recent historical autonomy and independence to a highly-concentrated economic structure and a fervent dedication to at least the outward appearances of neutrality from the 19th century on.

If if you need to paint anyone who isn't on your bandwagon as a flat-earther, your position just might might be a little fragile.

I fail to see how my position on the moon landing is particularly fragile, given the overwhelming data to support it.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:40 AM on January 20, 2013


Identity of the "second shooter"

From the newtownbee:

A man with a gun who was spotted in the woods near the school on the day of the incident was an off-duty tactical squad police officer from another town, according to the source.

Not a second shooter as far as I understand - but what chain of events put a tactical officer from another jurisdiction there?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:29 AM on January 20, 2013


Teenager Kills 5 People In New Mexico Shooting.
posted by ericb at 11:35 AM on January 20, 2013


Gun Show Shootings: At Least 5 Hurt In Accidental Incidents In Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina.
posted by ericb at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2013


Multiple people shot on college campus in Texas
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:21 AM on January 22, 2013


Not a second shooter as far as I understand - but what chain of events put a tactical officer from another jurisdiction there?

Cops don't always live where they work.
posted by empath at 4:19 PM on January 22, 2013


Another data point to throw on the pile of NRA dishonesty: Faking Waves: How the NRA and pro-gun Americans abuse Australian crime statistics.
posted by harriet vane at 10:19 PM on January 23, 2013


Why People Think Sandy Hook is A Hoax
warning: Alex Jones

posted by telstar at 11:34 AM on January 27, 2013


Hegemonic Masculinity and Mass Murderers in the United States(PDF)
This exploratory study examines the act of mass murder as an attempt by the perpetrators to lay claim to a hegemonic masculine identity that has been damaged or denied them, yet that they feel entitled to as males in American culture.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:44 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Father of Newtown victim heckled at hearing, Ken Dixon, Connecticut Post, 28 January 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 8:29 PM on January 28, 2013


If the government wants to get you, armed force will not stop them. Your belief that weapons will keep you safe from a fascist police state is incredibly naive. I mean, you've already devoted some time to talking about "sky robots" - how do you think your assault rifle will keep you safe from a drone strike? Are you going to gun down the missile it fires at you from 10,000 feet up? Guns can keep you safe from street crime, but they are generally pretty useless for purposes of armed resistance against the government

With all due respect, and much as it pains me to admit it, small forces with rifles and improvised explosives have done very well for themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan against the most heavily armed country in the world. I understand that this seems unrealistic to many, but for those of us who do have a familiarity with this sort of thing, let me say that it does not seem impossible that lightly-armed individuals with rifles could mount a significant defense.
posted by corb at 9:21 PM on January 28, 2013


A defense against what, exactly? At what point is it okay to start murdering cops and soldiers?
posted by empath at 9:24 PM on January 28, 2013


what chain of events put a tactical officer from another jurisdiction there?

I don't know specifically about Connecticut or this circumstance, but local police departments often have small staff and limited budget. As a result, it's not uncommon in some jurisdictions to draw emergency tactical response from either state-police resources or a regional organization of shared assets. (For example.)
posted by cribcage at 9:51 PM on January 28, 2013


A defense against what, exactly? At what point is it okay to start murdering cops and soldiers?

Let me first say that I was a soldier for over a third of my life and in many ways would still consider myself a soldier. I am subject to recall in the event of severe national emergency. I swore an oath and took it very seriously, and still have many friends and best beloveds still in the service.

With that said - the answer is - if they come to murder you.
posted by corb at 10:13 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, how many guns do you think you need to stop a police department from murdering you if they set their minds to it?

Because the way it works in practice is if you resist, you either die, or if you're lucky, you get arrested for murdering a few unlucky cops. There's no practical way to shoot yourself out of a no-knock raid, if they mean to do harm to you.

So again, what is your scenario here for using your guns in defense against the state. Be specific.
posted by empath at 10:20 PM on January 28, 2013


My personal scenario, or other people's scenarios?

For me, in part because of the background I have, it would take a lot for me to be willing to use the force of arms to resist the armed or law enforcement forces of the country that I served in and love. I mean, seriously a lot. I know there are people who would shoot against the state in defense of their firearms: I am not one of them, but I don't condemn them; their line is different from mine, not necessarily better or worse.

For me to be willing to take up arms rather than words, there would need to be systematic and wide-spread murder, torture, or wide-spread land and property seizures against political dissidents or groups of minority individuals, within the borders of the United States, such that I would know with a certainty that anyone who was carrying out those orders knew with a certainty that they were doing wrong. And all non-violent resolutions possible would have to have been tried and failed. And even that is probably overbroad, I'm sure I could fine tune it further.

I don't think this is likely - I personally think this is extremely unlikely - but I also think there is a non-zero possibility of it coming to pass in my lifetime. When I was younger, if you had asked me if our government would ever have endorsed a kill list of American citizens, I would have laughed at you.

For me, personally, I think the likelihood of civil disorder and rioting, is a much more likely scenario, and still one I'd like to be able to defend against.
posted by corb at 10:31 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hegemonic Masculinity and Mass Murderers in the United States(PDF)
This exploratory study examines the act of mass murder as an attempt by the perpetrators to lay claim to a hegemonic masculine identity that has been damaged or denied them, yet that they feel entitled to as males in American culture.


This should be its on FPP. It makes so much intuitive sense to me.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:43 PM on January 28, 2013


What Are the Gobshites Saying These Days: Facebook Edition
There were initial reports, right after the shooting, that police found the AR-15 in his car, NOT IN THE SCHOOL. The rifle was not used. The shooter went into the school with 4 handguns, NOT an Assault Rifle as the media has charged. I remember in the initial hours of this shooting, the Police said they found the rifle in the car. But the Administration-controlled MSM had a pre-planned attack already waiting, to ban so-called assault weapons and jumped on that line of reporting, knowing it was a lie, which included people like Piers Morgan who said the shooter used an AR-15 that shoots hundreds of rounds per minute, as if it were a machine gun.
(With apologies to Charles P. Pierce.)
posted by ob1quixote at 5:35 PM on January 30, 2013


I just heard a radio advertisement for the local gun and knife show. (Plus jewelry for the ladies! "So bring your honey and bring your money!") The tagline they used twice during the commercial? "Come get your guns while you still can!"
posted by ob1quixote at 10:03 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shooter Boys and At Risk Girls : Vice.com
posted by The Whelk at 10:08 AM on February 1, 2013


« Older In the English-speaking world...  |  CHIKARA Pro Wrestling is notab... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments